U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) is joining her Democratic and Republican colleagues in calling on two federal health agencies to close any remaining gaps in health care coverage for Iowa’s seniors, and to protect Medicare beneficiaries from high-risk settings by ensuring access to Part B medications in the home setting during COVID-19.
In a letter to CMS and Health and Human Services (HHS), Ernst writes in part: “We ask that, as you engage with patient advocates, providers, and other stakeholders, you seek out opportunities to further close remaining gaps and, as much as possible, pursue solutions that provide for continuity and consistency in care. These solutions must ensure beneficiary access to Part B drugs, provide appropriate payment for these drugs, and sufficiently reimburse for administration services rendered when provided in the home setting.”
Ernst goes on to say: “As reports of current and impending practice closures, capacity shortages, and infections contracted at healthcare facilities continue to circulate, it is vital that we act now to ensure that all Americans, particularly those at highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19, can receive the care and medications that they need in the safest possible setting. For a growing number of beneficiaries, that setting is the home.”
Senator Ernst has been fighting for Iowa’s seniors throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, including calling for bipartisan action to crackdown on scammers who are targeting Iowa seniors. In addition, she called on the IRS to automatically qualify seniors for the direct payments – and they have done so. She also helped secure a number of important relief measures for seniors in the three bipartisan packages Congress passed and that are now law, including:
- Broadly expanded Medicare’s telehealth services, so seniors can access more care and health services from home.
- Included free diagnostic COVID-19 testing and free coverage of a future COVID-19 vaccine.
- Provided additional funding for Aging and Disability Services Programs, which supports senior nutrition, home-delivered meals, community-based services, and family caregivers.
- Required Medicare Part D plans to provide up to a 90-day supply of prescription medication if a senior requests this during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, Ernst held a telephone town hall recently and heard from many of Iowa’s seniors. Ernst was joined on the call by the state director of AARP Iowa, Brad Anderson, and the dean of the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa, Dr. Brooks Jackson.