On December 13, 2016, President Barack Obama signed into law the 21st Century Cures Act, which increases biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health, better access to mental health services and improving outcomes in health care. The bill allows individuals with ESRD to enroll in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans beginning in 2021. Currently, Medicare beneficiaries was in MA programs prior to going on dialysis can stay in the MA plan. Anyone already on dialysis could not enroll in an MA plan.

Medicare Advantage is a program where Medicare pays a private insurance company to provide all care to a Medicare beneficiary. Many ESRD patients would benefit from having the choice to enter an MA plan because they typically provide care coordination and disease management as well services that are not covered by traditional Medicare, such as vision and dental. MA plans also have lower copays and coinsurance than traditional Medicare, which only covers 80 percent of costs. We are pleased that ESRD patients will have the option to enroll in MA beginning in 2021.