By Matthew Fitting, NKF Director of Grassroots Advocacy
With federal lawmakers returning to Washington post-election, the next few weeks are their last opportunity to pass legislation ahead of a new year and new Congress. With more co-sponsors in the House and Senate than ever before, we’re working to make sure representatives understand that our bill extending immunosuppressive drug coverage needs to be a top priority.
Kidney patients and those that care for them can’t keep waiting – we need this bill passed before they end this Congress. So we’re asking congressional lawmakers who are already on board to make the case to their leadership for why this is an urgent need, as well as encouraging any remaining holdouts that they need to co-sponsor and back this bill to show they’re fighting for the kidney patients that they represent.
We were also glad to see a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office that confirmed one of our key talking points on why this bill is so urgently needed: in addition to getting transplant patients the lifesaving medication that they need, it will also save $400 million in Medicare spending over the next 10 years as a result of it helping patients healthfully maintain their transplant and avoid costly dialysis.
Currently, Medicare payment for immunosuppressive drugs that maintain kidney transplants runs out for certain patients after three years. This bill would end that three-year limitation and ensure that all kidney transplant patients are able to access the drugs that allow them to maintain their transplant. Medicare coverage three years after the transplant would be limited to the immunosuppressive drugs only and would occur only if the individual does not have other forms of insurance such as Medicaid, other public coverage, or group health insurance.
NKF thanks the thousands of advocates who have reached out to their congressional delegations to express how much passing this bill would mean to them and to every kidney transplant patient. If you haven’t yet, please take action then share this alert with your friends and family on social media. Because of your tireless work, we are closer than ever to passing this bill.