Rockville, MD, July 16, 2008 -- The American Kidney Fund applauds the House and Senate for enacting vital chronic kidney disease awareness and education provisions as part of the first major overhaul to Medicare’s End Stage Renal Disease Program in over a decade. The changes, incorporated in H.R. 6331, The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act, will provide critical counseling benefits to chronic kidney disease patients and enhance awareness of the disease.
“The important patient education and chronic kidney disease demonstration projects approved by Congress take a critical step forward in elevating awareness of kidney disease and empowering patients about their treatment options,” commented American Kidney Fund President and Chief Executive Officer LaVarne A. Burton.
Approximately one out of every eight Americans has chronic kidney disease. Yet, a recent report funded by the National Institutes of Health found that only 42 percent of those with severe kidney damage were aware of their condition. This alarming gap in basic knowledge must be filled if we are to prevent millions of Americans from falling into the hole and developing irreversible kidney damage.
As the nation’s top provider of direct financial assistance to kidney failure patients, the American Kidney Fund has witnessed the devastating impact of this disease and is committed to enhancing education to reduce the number of individuals and families affected by it.
The Medicare End Stage Renal Disease Program provisions of the Medicare bill include authorization for Chronic Kidney Disease Demonstration Projects to increase public awareness of kidney disease, screen for the disease, and promote greater understanding of risk factors and healthy behaviors. The package also includes educational counseling sessions for Medicare beneficiaries with chronic kidney disease to assist patients in managing their illness and avoiding complications.
The legislation also includes an important quality improvement program to encourage providers to meet new benchmarks for performance. Included, too, is a correction of an anomaly in the reimbursement rate for dialysis providers. The bill establishes a statutory mechanism to adjust the reimbursement rate for annual changes in costs. An annual update mechanism will provide greater financial stability for providers of dialysis care and prevent patients from being squeezed by potential cuts in services.
“Once again, we offer our thanks to the House and Senate, including many legislators who have worked tirelessly to advance the public’s health by passing these needed measures,” Ms. Burton concluded.
Read the text of the legislation.