Tampa, FL -- (SBWIRE) -- 12/23/2014 -- Louisiana Medicaid recipients will now receive complete coverage for the use of compression pumps and other compression therapies to treat lymphedema, according to an announcement from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH).
DHH cited the growing crisis of lymphedema complications among breast cancer survivors as one reason for expanding Louisiana Medicaid coverage. But many say that it is not just breast cancer survivors who will benefit.
"Lymphedema affects a broad population of cancer survivors, surgery patients and others," said Greg Grambor, president of Vascular PRN, a company that distributes lymphedema pumps and boots. "Especially for those with advanced-stage lymphedema, this coverage is absolutely vital."
In its early stages, lymphedema causes mild swelling in the extremities, and it is usually reversible with treatment. But once lymphedema has progressed to an advanced stage, the condition is no longer reversible and must be managed to prevent deterioration. If lymphedema is not managed correctly, the ongoing swelling can cause disfigurement, chronic pain, limited range of motion, bacterial skin infections and, rarely, soft-tissue cancer.
Grambor notes that the expanded coverage may be especially significant for nursing homes and other long-term care providers. "One of the treatments for lymphedema is light exercise, but that can be difficult or impossible for many nursing home patients," remarked Grambor. "Compression pumps move fluid away from the extremities much in the same way gentle muscle contractions would."
According to a study by Avalere Health, the financial and public health impact of expanded lymphedema coverage is unclear. DHH has stated that it expects to see improved patient outcomes and overall cost savings as a result of the new policy.