BIO Supports Sen. Hatch's Legislation Protecting Patient Access To Biotech Medicines

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today applauded Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) for his introduction of the Medicare Patient Access to Technology Act of 1999, which is designed to make sure seniors can get life-saving medicines when they need them.

"One of the key provisions of Sen. Hatch's bill would correct an unanticipated consequence of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997," said BIO President Carl B. Feldbaum.

"Following passage of the act, the Health Care FinancingAdministration (HCFA) devised a proposed Ambulatory Payment Classification (APC) system to bundle payments in hospital outpatient departments. The APC system proposed is seriously flawed and if implemented, would severely under-reimburse innovative biotech products used in the hospital outpatient setting.

"This not only would limit seniors' access to drugs they already receive, but also would undermine investment in the development of new medicines," Feldbaum added.

"Sen. Hatch's legislation protects seniors' access to categories ofessential medicines most likely to be hurt by HCFA's proposed APC system."

To underscore some of the problems for patients associatedwith HCFA's proposed reimbursement scheme, Feldbaum noted the regulations actually could create incentives for hospitals to use drugs in a less efficient manner and substitute the least expensive treatments for the most effective ones.

"We look forward to working with Sen. Hatch and othersupporters on this critical legislation," Feldbaum said.

BIO represents more than 830 biotechnology companies,academic institutions and state biotech centers in 47 states and 26 nations. Its members are involved in the research and development of health care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotech products.