This month, we recognize Lana Schmidt, of Liberty, Ill., as the AKF Advocate of the Month for March 2014. Lana is committed to increasing public awareness of kidney disease and helping others access the information they need for quality health care. Read more >>
Your Voice is Powerful! CMS Drops Proposal to Restrict Access to Immunosuppressive Drugs
Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said it will drop its recent proposal to remove immunosuppressive drugs from “protected class” status under Medicare Part D. This means that transplant patients will continue to have access under Part D for all approved immunosuppressive drugs.
In a letter to Congressman Henry Waxman, Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said the agency “received numerous concerns about some elements of the proposal from members of Congress and stakeholders.” The agency will continue to gather and evaluate stakeholder input, and may revisit the issue in future years.
This is a victory for the entire kidney community and the patients we serve. Over the past several months, AKF and many other patient advocacy organizations have participated in meetings with the Obama administration and key Congressional staff to communicate the impact the rule would have on transplant patients’ access to immunosuppressive drugs. AKF also submitted comments expressing our opposition to the rule, and more than 700 members of AKF’s Advocacy Network contacted their Congressional representatives on this issue.
We are grateful to every individual who joined with us in reaching out to Congress and CMS on this issue. Together, we have made a difference. Moving forward, we will continue to work with CMS to ensure that transplant recipients retain access to all immunosuppressive drugs under Medicare Part D.
At The Hope Affair, the American Kidney Fund's national gala, NeShell Monroe was honored as the 2013 Hero of Hope. NeShell works tirelessly to encourage and empower other patients at her dialysis facility to care for themselves and to live their lives to the fullest. She reaches out to the community at local health events and through the media to educate people about kidney disease and its leading causes, the importance of early detection, and how to prevent kidney disease. NeShell has traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with legislators and help them understand how their policy decisions affect kidney patients.
CMS Releases Final Rule on ESRD Payments
On November 22, 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its final rule that will result in a 12 percent cut in Medicare dialysis payments for people who have end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
The American Kidney Fund advocated against these cuts as we believe they will have negative consequences on ESRD patients’ access to quality care and services. In addition, over 1,000 letters were sent to members of Congress from our Advocates expressing concern with the proposed cuts.
According to the final rule, payments will remain the same for 2014 and 2015; however, the full $30 cut per treatment will be phased in over the next 3-4 years. AKF remains concerned that this cut may limit ESRD patients’ treatment options and, although the phase-in is a less drastic approach, it will not mitigate the potential for challenges regarding access to quality care in the future. Since 2011, the Medicare ESRD program has undergone a series of significant payment reforms and reductions so we will be closely monitoring how these sequential cuts will impact patient care. Read AKF’s statement regarding the rule.