The American Association of Respiratory Care’s (AARC) Medicare Respiratory Therapy Initiative was reintroduced to the new Congress on January 30.

Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) reintroduced the legislation as Senate Bill 343 (SB 343). The new bill replaces Senate Bill 2704, which was pending in the last Congress.

SB 343 seeks to revise the Medicare law to permit qualified respiratory therapists (RTs) to provide certain services, such as smoking cessation, asthma management, medication education, and inhaler training. These services will be provided to asthma, COPD, and other respiratory patients under the general supervision of a physician, but without the doctor present under Part B Medicare law.

“Our legislation will help improve access to much-needed lung health services for Medicare beneficiaries in the care setting that is right for them,” says senator Lincoln. “It’s a targeted legislative fix that will help many Americans receive the services they need from qualified respiratory therapists.”

The AARC expects introduction of a companion bill in the House of Representatives soon.

The AARC launched the initiative in 2007 in an effort to improve patient access to qualified RTs in all of the places they might seek care—doctor’s office, outpatient clinic, even their own home—and have those services covered by Medicare.