CLARKE AND UPTON INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO ADDRESS BARRIERS TO ALLERGY DIAGNOSTIC TESTING

Bill Text

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09) and Congressman Fred Upton (MI-06) released the following statement regarding the introduction of H.R. 4114 the Removing Barriers to Allergy Diagnostic Testing Act:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the United States with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year, and the symptoms range from mild to life-threatening. Without proper diagnosis, patients are likely to receive suboptimal care which can lead to serious asthma attacks or even anaphylactic shock.

Allergies are the result of the immune system mistaking an otherwise harmless substance as an invader, this substance is known as an allergen. This mistake leads to an overreaction and overproduction of antibodies which triggers symptoms in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach, or on the skin. Allergy testing is vital for children and adults and can reduce emergency room visits, hospitalizations, missed school days, and in serious cases save lives.

For these reasons, we reintroduced H.R 4114 the Removing Barriers to Allergy Diagnostic Testing Act of 2021. This legislation will remove barriers inhibiting patient coverage and access to safe and accurate allergy tests, thereby empowering patients with personal healthcare information which can help them live healthy productive lives.

“Unfortunately, there is still a myriad of barriers to accessing competent and comprehensive health care in the wealthiest nation on the planet. If the past year has taught us nothing, it has taught us health care is a human right. That is why I’m so proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Removing Barriers to Allergy Diagnostic Testing Act of 2021,” said Clarke. “We must address the glaring barriers to competent allergy diagnostic health care impacting millions of Americans — with a particularly devastating presence in communities of color — immediately. The Removing Barriers to Allergy Diagnostic Testing Act will do that and more. I look forward to this legislation saving and improving the lives of millions of Americans.”

“Millions of Americans – including more than 6 million children – suffer from a wide range of allergies each and every day, and for some folks, these conditions can prove fatal if not monitored and treated appropriately,” said Upton. “That’s why it’s so important that we expand access to allergy diagnosis, testing, and treatment for the most vulnerable among us. The Removing Barriers to Allergy Diagnostic Testing Act will help us do just that and I am glad to support this important, bipartisan legislation.”  

Allergy testing is usually performed using in vitro specific IgE tests (blood test) or percutaneous skin tests (skin prick test). According to peer-reviewed literature and guidelines from the National Institutes of Health, in vitro, specific IgE tests and percutaneous skin tests are considered equivalent to confirmatory tests in terms of their sensitivity and accuracy. In other words, blood-based allergy testing is as accurate as percutaneous skin testing. From a safety perspective, percutaneous skin tests are generally safe tests for both adults and children with a low risk for systemic reactions or significant adverse events. Blood-based allergy tests have an even better safety profile with no risk for systemic reactions or significant adverse events. However, despite the recommendation from peer-reviewed literature, the National Institutes of Health, and specialists from academic centers around the country some current Medicare local coverage determinations, and Medicaid coverage policies, deny equal coverage and access to blood-based allergy tests. Inequities in coverage and barriers to access lead to poor patient health outcomes, exacerbates already disproportionate financial burdens, and in extreme cases cause death.

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Yvette D. Clarke has been in Congress since 2007. She represents New York’s Ninth Congressional District, which includes Central and South Brooklyn. Clarke is Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Taskforce on Immigration,  a Senior Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and a Senior Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

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