WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) last week joined his colleagues U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Tim Scott (R-SC) to introduce the bipartisan Patient Access to Cellular Transplant (PACT) Act, which would protect access to bone marrow and cord blood transplants for Ohioans who rely on Medicare. Under current law, Medicare reimburses for bone marrow and cord blood transplants differently than it reimburses for organ transplants. As a result, it can be difficult for seniors who require a non-organ transplant to access lifesaving medical care. Brown’s bill would help correct this disparity in payment policy and ensure all seniors have access to the transplant services they need – regardless of their condition.

“The PACT Act provides hope to the many Americans who suffer from diseases like leukemia and lymphoma and have struggled to access the care they need,” said Senator Brown. “I urge my colleagues to support the PACT Act so these vulnerable patients can access the care they need to survive.”

“The Patient Access to Cellular Transplant (PACT) Act would help make cord blood transplants more available and financially feasible to patients suffering from blood cancers, like leukemia and lymphoma,” said Marcie Finney, Executive Director of the Cleveland Cord Blood Center, Ohio’s only public cord blood bank. “With over 10,000 units banked for transplantation at the Cleveland Cord Blood Center, the bill would help strengthen our ability to serve more patients across the U.S.”

Currently, Medicare does not adequately cover the cost of providing bone marrow or cord blood transplants to its recipients. As a result, transplant centers across the country are losing thousands of dollars on each Medicare beneficiary they treat with this curative therapy. This has a significant impact on individuals who are living with different types of blood cancers, like leukemia or lymphoma, or other diseases like sickle cell disease.

This legislation better aligns the reimbursement policies for hospitals by creating a system similar to the one currently in place for organ transplants. Specifically, Medicare would reimburse hospitals for the costs of searching for donors and acquiring cells and bone marrow, separately from the cost of completing the life-saving transplants. 

Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Kenny Marchant (R-TX) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.