The Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act (H.R. 4814), introduced by Representatives Tom Marino (R-PA) and John Lewis (D-GA), aims to promote chronic kidney disease (CKD) research and education, expand care coordination efforts and protect access to care for dialysis patients. We need your help to improve care for CKD patients.
Coordinating Research Efforts
The legislation includes a call for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide a report on the biological, social, economic, and behavioral factors that lead to the progression of CKD in minority populations, as well as a review of treatment patterns for minority populations. In addition, the bill calls for a study to show the Federal government’s investment in kidney disease research compared to the money spent on treatment and for greater coordination of federal research programs focused on kidney disease. We think these efforts will help strengthen our case for why we need more federal funding for kidney disease research.
Improving access to pre-dialysis and pre-transplant education
In 2008, with strong support of the kidney community, Congress passed legislation to enable patients with late stage kidney disease, but who were not yet on dialysis, to access education benefits funded by Medicare. However, since implementation, this benefit has been underutilized. Education helps those with failing kidneys understand how their own role in slowing their disease progression and what options are available once their kidneys do fail. People with education are more likely to get on the transplant wait list and feel more confident selecting home dialysis options. This bill will expand the education benefit to all patients with kidney function less than 29% (stages IV and V) who are not on dialysis and it expands the types of health care professionals who are qualified to provide this education. In addition, the bill creates stronger incentives for nephrology practitioners to work in underserved and rural areas and promotes greater access to home dialysis therapies.
Expanding insurance options and care coordination
The bill improves access to care for dialysis patients and affords them the same Medicare options as those with disabilities and those over age 65, such as access to Medicare Advantage plans. Some Medicare Advantage plans have programs that improve the communication and sharing of information between patients’ health care providers and some services and treatments may have lower copayments than traditional Medicare. The bill also extends approval of current Medicare special needs programs that often serve lower income dialysis patients by providing greater care coordination, extra benefits and lower out-of-pocket costs. It establishes a voluntary program under traditional Medicare that allows nephrology practitioners and dialysis providers to work closely with other health care providers to reduce patients risk for death and hospitalization, and requires hospitals to directly provide necessary medical information that dialysis facilities and nephrology practitioners need to reduce patient’s risk for readmission to the hospital and death.
This bill, if passed, will help kidney patients by strengthening research and education and improved access to higher quality dialysis care, but it can’t pass without your support! Email your Representative now and ask them to cosponsor H.R.4814.