By Troy Zimmerman, National Kidney Foundation’s Vice President of Government Relations
On July 17th, Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) announced that a Senate floor vote on the Republicans’ draft health care reform legislation will not be scheduled, given some Republican opposition to the bill. He further announced that he is considering a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act while deferring “replacement” to a later date. However on July 19th, following a meeting with President Trump he announced he will try to schedule a vote on either the “repeal and replace bill” or a repeal-only bill.
The National Kidney Foundation urges Congress and President Trump to work in a bipartisan manner to discuss critical challenges patients face, including access to affordable care with appropriate benefits and coverage for individuals with kidney disease.
Improvements in access to, and affordability of, healthcare are needed to address the many challenges kidney patients face today. We urge Congress and the Administration to address the following challenges in their plans to improve access to affordable healthcare:
- Access to healthcare is critical to earlier detection and management of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Earlier detection and management can often delay or prevent progression of chronic kidney disease and the need for dialysis treatment, improve outcomes for patients and lower healthcare expenditures. NKF urges Congress to enact policies that maintain or increase the number of insured patients, which will enable earlier detection of CKD.
- People with end stage renal disease (ESRD) require either a kidney transplant or dialysis to survive. As such, insurers should be required to cover these treatments and be prohibited from limiting coverage to people with ESRD who choose not to enroll in Medicare. Kidney patients should have choices for their insurance coverage.
- Over 200,000 ESRD patients have received a life-saving kidney transplant and must take immunosuppressive drugs for the life of the transplant.
- The insurance practice of placing immunosuppressive medications, including generics, on high cost sharing tiers requiring coinsurance amounts of greater than 20% and up to 50%, while also excluding generic immunosuppressive medications from fixed copayment amounts, severely jeopardizes the long-term success of the transplant.
- Cutting back on, or skipping doses of, immunosuppressive medications can be detrimental to the transplant and the patient.
- Each year Medicare spends $87,000 per dialysis patient; opposed to $32,500 for a transplant patient. Transplantation is far more cost effective and is associated with better outcomes than a lifetime of dialysis.