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Joachim Zuther, Lymphedema Specialist. Read more
Lohmann Rauscher
MediUSA

Tactile Medical

Support the Lymphedema Treatment Bill

Some of you may know that the Medicare Lymphedema Treatment Bill was officially introduced to the House of Representatives on February 23, 2010 by Congressman Larry Kissel of North Carolina as HR 4662. As of September 2010, this bill has 53 co-sponsors.

Heather Ferguson from North Carolina was instrumental in securing the coverage for treatment of Lymphedema in NC, and convinced Congressman Kissell to sponsor this bill. It shows what dedicated individuals can accomplish!

Below is a letter from Heather I received yesterday, asking those affected by lymphedema to help getting this bill passed by participating in the “Share Your Lymphedema Story” campaign.

Here is Heather’s letter:

Dear HR 4662 Supporters,

This update is devoted to announcing a new way in which you can help.  We are launching the “Share Your Lymphedema Story” campaign!  Complete information is below.

I am thrilled to be able to attend the National Lymphedema Conference taking place this week, and for those of you who will also be there I look forward to meeting you in person.

Please continue to write Congress asking members to cosponsor our bill and do let me know if you have any questions or need any additional information.

Many thanks, Heather Ferguson

The Lymphedema “Share Your Story” Campaign

What will my letter be used for?

Your letter will be shared with members of Congress and other groups which we are seeking support from for HR 4662.

How to participate

Send to:  Stories@LymphedemaTreatmentAct.org

Subject Line:  My Lymphedema Story

Format:  Please place the following at the top of your letter

Name

Complete Address

Email Address

Length:  That is up to you but we suggest that you try to not exceed one typed page.

Suggested Content:

  • Is your lymphedema primary or secondary?
  • What is the cause, if known?
  • If the result of cancer please specify what kind of cancer.
  • The age of onset.
  • The length of time before you were diagnosed.
  • The length of time until you were able to begin treatment.
  • Have you ever had a problem accessing treatment or finding a qualified doctor or therapist?
  • Has your insurance ever denied coverage for any portion of your treatment?
  • Have you ever had to go without treatment due to lack of insurance coverage?
  • If yes, what were the consequences?
  • How has lymphedema impacted your life?
  • What would this legislation mean to you is passed and how would it improve your quality of life?Click here for a PDF Version of this Article

    Do you need more information on other topics on lymphedema? Use the “Index” list on the left side of this page and select the article you are interested in. You can also use the “Select Category” window on the right of this page and select the topic you are interested in. Once selected, a new page will load with a number of articles related to the topic you chose. Click on any headline of the articles and the entire article will load up for you to read.

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23 comments to Support the Lymphedema Treatment Bill

  • Ron Carson, MHS, OT

    As I read it, the proposed lymphedema prevents non-certified lymyphedema therapists from performing CDT. Is this correct?

    Does ACOLS believe certification is necessary to competently treat lymphedema?

    • Joachim Zuther

      This bill suggests that providers of lymphedema treatment should meet the standards set by the Lymphology Association of North America (LANA)
      The Academy of Lymphatic Studies believes that to adequately and successfully treat patients affected by lymphedema, the therapist should meet LANA standards.

  • Ron Carson, MHS, OT

    Joe, there seems to be conflict in your statement and ACOL’s “Management Seminar” web page, which in part states:

    “Graduates of this seminar will be able to effectively treat lymphedema patients…”

    Additionally, when I took the Management Seminar several years ago, we were specifically told that the course provided knowledge and skills necessary to treat extremity lymphedema.

    It is disappointing and difficult to understand how the institution that provided me the ability to “effectively treat lymphedema patients” now feels I don’t “meet standards”.

    • Joachim Zuther

      Dear Ron:
      You are absolutely correct in your statement that participants of ACOLS Lymphedema Management Seminars are able to effectively treat extremity lymphedema. The seminar curriculum is designed to introduce participants to lymphedema management, and provide the necessary tools to distinguish between edema and lymphedema and to design and execute a treatment plan for lymphedema affecting the upper and lower extremities. However, ACOLS on its website states very clearly that the seminar provides the basics of lymphedema management, and that there are a number of additional pathologies that can be effectively treated with MLD and CDT. ACOLS also makes it clear that the seminar curriculum does not meet the standards to sit for the LANA exam.

  • Ron Carson, MHS, OT

    Thanks Joe!

    Will you help me reconcile these two quotes:

    (1) “The Academy of Lymphatic Studies believes that to adequately and successfully treat patients affected by lymphedema, the therapist should meet LANA standards.”

    (2) “participants of ACOLS Lymphedema Management Seminars are able to effectively treat extremity lymphedema [while] the seminar curriculum does not meet the standards to sit for the LANA exam.”

    I guess my biggest struggle is ACOLS’ support for legislation that prevents ACOLS’ management seminar graduates from practicing.

    Thanks,

    Ron Carson

    • Joachim Zuther

      Dear Ron:
      As we all know, at this time clear guidelines for lymphedema certification are non-existent. Health care professionals may use the label “lymphedema therapist” without attending any formal training in this specialized field. In the interest of all those affected by lymphedema, the current status quo is unacceptable, and any effort to improve this situation deserves support. The Academy offers a variety of programs, to include seminars and complete certification courses, and individuals interested in lymphedema management can make the choice based on personal preference. Seminars include the basics in A/P and pathology of lymphedema, and prepares attendees well to effectively treat lymphedema affecting the UE or LE. The certification courses cover all aspects of lymphedema management, to include other areas that may be affected by lymphedema, and treatment options for complicated extremity lymphedema.
      At this point the bill is in its infancy, and it is unclear if the bill will pass as written, or at all.

  • Ron Carson, MHS, OT

    Thanks for your reply Joe.

  • Tom Kincheloe, OTR/L

    Hi Ron,

    I have to say I agree with Joe with regards to the bill currently being considered for lymphedema treatment. The last I heard (a few weeks ago) from Senator Graham is that the bill has yet to be considered by two subcommittees (Ways and Means being one of them). The bill is quite a ways yet from Congressional passage if it even gets that far. By that time, much of the language will have been re-written or axed from the original bill.

    I seriously doubt that the language on LANA certification will remain. Certification by the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT), for example, is not required by the federal government but is left up to individual governing groups at the state level(and not all states require NBCOT certification for OTs). LANA certification is likely to follow the same path although I personally do not know of any state that requires LANA certification for lymphedema therapists. I think we are a very long way from this so I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

    The purpose of LANA certification is to distinguish between those who took a full training course on lymphedema therapy through schools such as ACOLS and Norton versus those who took a much shorter course (such as those taught by other “CLTs” in 6-8 hour training sessions or through in-services).

    By the way, I am a Norton “grad” (4 years) and have yet to become LANA certified as I don’t figure it worth spending $300 to take a test when there are no requirements at any level (government or non-government) to be LANA certified. When there is such a requirement then I’ll take the test.

    • Ron Carson, MHS, OT

      Tom said: “The purpose of LANA certification is to distinguish between those who took a full training course on lymphedema therapy through schools such as ACOLS and Norton versus those who took a much shorter course (such as those taught by other “CLTs” in 6-8 hour training sessions or through in-services).”

      Tom, the problem I see is that a number of therapists fall between LANA certification and the “6 – 8 hr training session”. The course I took at ACOLS is a great example.

      Also, I do not agree that non-certified lymph therapists should not be concerned about the language in the current bill. IF this bill passes with any language requiring LANA certification, I and others like me, are categorically excluded from doing treatment.

      For me the bottom line is this. If lymphedema leaders believe that LANA certification is the minimum requirement to treat lypmphedema, why are the seminar classes still being taught and why is ACOLS still saying that seminar trained graduates meet standards to treat extremity lypmphedema. Honestly, it can’t be both ways, can it?

  • Thank you very much Great post…thanks for share this..

  • For reasons unknown i’m ending up with a blank page after i try and post a comment,do you know the actual reason why its taking place?

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  • very interesting article, well worth a read

  • I don’t usually comment on blogs, but I had to on yours. You give the very useful information that many people didn’t know before. Thanks.

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  • interesting post, keep it up

  • Good infomation here, thanks.

  • Rissanen@gmail.com

    Hello there! I really enjoy reading your blog! If you keep making such great posts I will come back to keep reading!

  • Maria Babbit

    informative article thank you. Great reading

  • tennis lady

    Can you give us an up-date on possible Lymphedema Medicare Treatment legislation?

    It is badly needed and wonder what happened to it.

  • I’d like to thank you Joe for the great blog post and for the great news. I feel that it’s about time for this to happen.