On September 22nd, Representatives Burgess (R-TX), Kind (D-WI), Harper (R-MI), Meehan (R-PA), Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Cooper (D-TN), Griffith (R-VA), and McDermott (D-WA) introduced the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act (H.R. 6139). These sponsors seek to provide a safety net for kidney patients who lack health coverage for the immunosuppressive medications required to help maintain their transplant.
In response to the introduction of this legislation, NKF’s CEO, Kevin Longino, stated “Extending Medicare coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplant recipients is a critical step to ensuring a patient’s best chance of success post-transplant. Helping transplant recipients obtain the daily medications necessary to reduce the likelihood of organ rejection is not only what’s best for the patient long-term, it’s what best for Medicare long-term.” He continued, “Congress previously eliminated the 36-month time limit for coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for aged and disabled Medicare beneficiaries. Now it’s time to extend the same benefit to all Medicare beneficiaries under the age of 65 if they do not otherwise have coverage.”
Individuals with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), who require dialysis or a transplant to survive, are eligible for Medicare regardless of age or other disability. If these ESRD patients remain on dialysis, there is no time limit on their Medicare eligibility. However, despite quality of life benefits and the cost-effectiveness associated with transplantation compared to kidney dialysis, recipients who are not aged or disabled retain Medicare eligibility only for 36 months following their transplant. As a result, they may face the challenge of finding affordable coverage that allows them to obtain medications required to reduce the likelihood of their body rejecting their new kidney.
Medicare spends $2,683 per transplant recipient for immunosuppressive drugs under Part B compared to an average of $84,450 on a dialysis patient. Without any doubt, Medicare’s cost for these medications (and for kidney transplantation in general) is far less than the cost of annual dialysis. If the transplanted kidney fails, they must return to dialysis and wait again in the hopes of receiving another transplant. Both of these options are more costly and more detrimental to patient health than maintaining the new kidney.
We need you to write your legislators to tell them that you support this legislation and want them to join as a co-sponsor. Help build momentum for this important legislation. Show your support for transplant patients and send your legislators a letter showing your support for the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act.
Click here to see the National Kidney Foundation’s statement.
If you would like to tweet your Representative or post on their Facebook pages supporting this legislation, below are some suggested comments:
@(Legislator’s handle) Pls cosponsor H.R. 6139 to ensure transplant success for kidney patients @NKF #ImmunoCoverage – Name, Town
I stand with @NKF and urge you to co-sponsor the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act (H.R. 6139). Please support kidney patients by maintaining post-transplant coverage that will ensure their best chance of success post-transplant.