The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is pleased with the Senate Finance Committee’s announcement, under the leadership of Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), to lower healthcare costs and improve care for individuals with multiple chronic illnesses.
According to the committee, the vast majority of Medicare dollars are spent caring for patients living with multiple persistent, chronic health conditions like chronic kidney disease (CKD). The variety of services required for this care can often be uncoordinated and costly.
Kidney disease can lead to cardiovascular disease, bone disease and other chronic conditions. Medicare already spends about $87 billion annually to care for patients with kidney disease, including nearly $29 billion for most of the 636,000 individuals with kidney failure. As kidney disease advances from stage 1-4, costs nearly double from one stage to the next.
According to the Senate’s Finance Committee, spending on chronic illnesses accounts for roughly 93% of Medicare spending today. Hatch and Wyden announced the formation of a working group to develop policy ideas to help coordinate care and reduce costs of managing multiple chronic conditions. Without encouragement for providers to coordinate care, many Medicare patients have to visit multiple doctors and specialists to receive the care they need.
NKF has continued to recommend and advocate for improved strategies to incentivize earlier detection and care coordination for CKD in the Medicare program, which could save lives, kidneys and lower costs.
Over 26 million people have kidney disease, yet only 10% are aware they have it. Another 73 million are at risk. A recent study published by researchers leading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) CKD surveillance program show that the burden of CKD is increasing and that over half of U.S. adults age 30-64 are likely to develop CKD.
Intervention at the earliest stage is vital to improving outcomes, lowering health care costs, and improving patient experience.