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Coalition for 21st Century Medicine Endorses 'Patient Access to Critical Lab Tests Act'
Date:3/30/2009

- Legislation Seeks to Ensure Medicare Beneficiaries Have Access to Life-Saving Diagnostic Tests, Encourage Continued Innovation of Personalized Medicine -

WASHINGTON, March 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Coalition for 21st Century Medicine today announced its full endorsement for the Patient Access to Critical Lab Tests Act, legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 25th by Representatives Jason Altmire (D-PA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Tim Murphy (R-PA). The legislation will provide Medicare beneficiaries enhanced access to advanced diagnostic laboratory tests that can help improve the lives of millions of patients suffering from debilitating diseases. Additionally, the bill will encourage continued innovation in the burgeoning and promising field of personalized medicine.

Mapping the human genome has enabled revolutionary advances in understanding a wide variety of diseases and ushered in an era where treatments can be tailored to individual patients based on their DNA and the specific molecular character of their disease. Complex diagnostic laboratory tests make such "personalized medicine" possible. By understanding the molecular nature of disease, these new technologies increasingly allow clinicians and patients to pick individualized treatment options, rather than basing treatment choices on broad assessments of what works best for a population.

Current Medicare regulations thwart access to these important tests and discourage innovation by requiring hospitals to act as middlemen in the billing process. Laboratories are required to bill hospitals, and hospitals are required to bill Medicare. An access problem arises because hospitals are reluctant to assume the financial risk that the laboratory service will be covered and reimbursed by Medicare. The Patient Access to Critical Lab Tests Act would permit independent laboratories that develop and perform certain
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SOURCE The Coalition for 21st Century Medicine
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