House Approves ‘Patient Navigator’ Bill To Help Uninsured U.S. Residents Locate Coverage
The House on Monday passed a bill (HR 1812) that would establish a "patient navigator" system to help uninsured patients with chronic illnesses make medical decisions, CQ Today reports. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), would authorize $25 million in grants over five years to establish patient navigator programs in low-income and rural communities nationwide. Under the system, the programs would help uninsured patients evaluate their treatment options, enroll in clinical trials, obtain referrals and apply for financial assistance.
Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said, "The complexity and fragmentation of our health care system is perhaps the most daunting barrier of all," adding, "It exacerbates racial and ethnic disparities and reduces the efficiency of health care across the board." According to Brown, the bill would "help ease the way for those who face a serious illness, an intimidating array of treatment options and uncertainty about the best course of action." The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in April passed a companion bill (S 898) sponsored by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) (Schuler, CQ Today, 6/13).