Press release

American Kidney Fund Applauds Senate Introduction of Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage Bill, Urges Congress to Pass Legislation that Supports Kidney Transplants

ROCKVILLE, Md. (Feb. 28, 2020) — The American Kidney Fund (AKF) applauds Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) for their leadership in introducing companion legislation to the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2019. When passed, S. 3353 and H.R. 5534 will extend Medicare coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplant patients for the life of the transplant for Medicare patients under age 65.

"This bill is a game-changer for those Americans who are fortunate enough to receive a kidney transplant but who stand to lose Medicare coverage for the immunosuppressive drugs after three years," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF president and CEO of AKF, the nation's leading nonprofit working on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease. "Transplant patients must take these drugs for as long as their transplanted kidney is functioning, and this bill will help ensure that no one has to stop taking these drugs — and go back on dialysis — because they cannot afford them."

Most Americans with end-stage renal disease (ESRD, or kidney failure) under age 65 become eligible for Medicare, but they lose eligibility three years after receiving a kidney transplant. Those who do not have other insurance coverage to cover their immunosuppressive drugs often cannot afford the cost, which is typically thousands of dollars each month. If they stop taking immunosuppressive drugs, their transplanted kidney will fail, and they will again need dialysis to stay alive, at which point they again become eligible for Medicare.

"The cost of paying for immunosuppressive drugs is a fraction of the cost of paying for dialysis," Burton noted. "This bill is not only the right thing to do for patients, but it is also fiscally responsible legislation that will save American taxpayers money over the long term. We urge both the Senate and the House of Representatives to quickly move ahead with this common-sense legislation that saves lives and money."

About the American Kidney Fund

The American Kidney Fund (AKF) fights kidney disease on all fronts as the nonprofit with the greatest direct impact on people with kidney disease. AKF works on behalf of 1 in 7 Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions more at risk, with an unmatched scope of programs that support people wherever they are in their fight against kidney disease—from prevention through transplant. AKF fights for kidney health for all through programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy. AKF is one of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, investing 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, and holds the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for 21 consecutive years and the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly known as GuideStar. 

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