The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) congratulates Congress on passing H.R. 34, the 21st Century Cures Act. Passing the House and Senate by overwhelming votes, this legislation makes significant reforms and investments in health care.
For kidney disease patients, this legislation includes a provision that allows dialysis patients the option to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans. Thousands of emails from NKF patient and professional advocates were sent in support of allowing dialysis patients the same opportunity as other Medicare beneficiaries to enroll in these plans and we are happy to acknowledge that your efforts paid off. Patients will be able to enroll in these plans effective on January 1st, 2021. While a few years away this allows time to implement changes to the Medicare Advantage program to ensure the plans are ready to support the healthcare needs of dialysis patients. Additionally, the 21st Century Cures Act will enable patient self-management of chronic disease through telehealth and health information technologies, and address racial health disparities.
Over the next ten years, the 21st Century Cures Act also will invest $6.3 billion in drug addiction treatment, chronic disease research, and mental health treatment, including $4.8 billion in additional funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It will also promote personalized medicine by providing authorization and funding for the President’s Precision Health Initiative. The Cures Act also provides $500 million in additional funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and streamlines regulations for the review and approval of medical devices and medications, including prompting FDA to create a patient-focused development guidance that will expand patient experience input during the approval process – such as quality of life, treatment impact, and patient treatment preferences.
President Obama has announced he will sign the legislation.