(WASHINGTON, DC) - March 4, 2002 - After a four-month delay, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a corrected regulation on pass-through payments for innovative medications in the hospital outpatient setting. A bipartisan congressional group urged the agency to halt implementation of the original regulation, which would have slashed pass-through payments by almost 69 percent. The final rule, issued last week, is effective April 1 of this year will cut pass-through payments by more than 63 percent.

“While we are glad Congress helped achieve a delay, and that CMS recalculated the expected payment reduction, a payment cut is still a payment cut,” said Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Vice President for Government Relations Sharon Cohen. “These kinds of cuts restrict patient access to beneficial drugs and biologics,” said Cohen.

“Erroneous data, endless red tape, and an arcane payment methodology plague the Medicare system,” said Cohen. “In the end, patients are the ones harmed by having a health-care system based on 1965 medicine. These problems highlight the need for Medicare modernization including prescription drug coverage.”

BIO also said that the Bush Administration’s revised proposal for a Medicare prescription drug discount card could be a good first step in creating this coverage. “We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress to create a Medicare prescription drug program based on competitive private sector models,” said Cohen.

For more information on BIO’s Medicare principles, visit our Web site at .

BIO represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

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