On September 21, 2016, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 5659, the Expanding Seniors Receiving Dialysis Choice Act or ESRD Choice Act. The 423-0 vote included 242 Republicans and 181 Democrats.
This is a victory for kidney disease patients. Thank you to the nearly 700 people who supported kidney patients and NKF by reaching out to their Representatives.
Starting in 2020, this bill will give individuals with kidney failure access to Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. It will also require education for individuals with end stage renal disease (ESRD) to aid them in making informed decisions about MA coverage. Since the MA program was created in 2003, ESRD patients are the only group specifically denied the option to enroll in these plans (currently Medicare beneficiaries who have Chronic Kidney Disease can enroll in MA and can remain in their MA plan after they progress to ESRD). Removing government restrictions that prevent ESRD patients from enrolling in MA plans will allow ESRD beneficiaries the same freedom of choice in coverage as other Medicare enrollees. Allowing ESRD patients to select these plans may help some patients minimize their out-of-pocket expenses and access additional benefits that some MA plans provide like transportation and dental.
Next steps: While the House has passed this bill, it still needs to be considered in the Senate. At this time, there is no Senate companion bill to H.R. 5659 but given the overwhelming support in the House, it is likely that there will be movement on this issue later this Congress. When this happens, we will need your continued support to ensure that the Senate shows the same level of support!