WASHINGTON, D.C., March 18, 2021­ — Legislation introduced in the House of Representatives would expand patient access to critical cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation (CR/PR) programs in Medicare. The Increasing Access to Quality Cardiac Rehabilitation Care Act of 2021 was introduced with bipartisan support.

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement about the bill:

“Congress took a major step in 2018 when it included provisions in the Bipartisan Budget Act that authorized physician assistants, nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists, referred to as advanced practice providers (APPs), to begin supervising patients’ day-to-day CR/PR. This bill would move the effective date of those provisions to 2022 from 2024, bringing the benefits of these services to more patients sooner.

“The bill also would address the problem of patients facing long wait times for referrals to cardiac rehab, making them less likely to enroll. By authorizing qualified APPs to order Medicare patients to receive these services, this bill would allow for quicker referrals of patients.

“Coronary heart disease patients who enroll in cardiac rehabilitation have a 26 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease-related death and an 18 percent lower risk of readmission at 1-year follow-up compared to those who don’t enroll. Despite these benefits, participation in cardiac rehabilitation programs remains low. Research has found that women are 12 percent less likely to be referred to cardiac rehab than men, and that Black, Hispanic and Asian patients are 20 percent, 36 percent and 50 percent less likely, respectively, to be referred than white patients. This legislation would bridge the gap between referral and the start of CR/PR and help Medicare patients more equitably access proven services to help improve their health outcomes. We strongly urge passage of this vital legislation during the 117th Congress.”  


About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

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