WASHINGTON—Data from a recent survey of Dialysis Patient Citizens’ (DPC) kidney disease patient membership highlights the strong need for swift Congressional action on the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2011 (H.R. 2969/S.1454).
The survey data released today reinforces concerns that many dialysis patients are not on the kidney transplant list due to worries regarding the cost of immunosuppressive medications after their Medicare coverage ends. This legislation, which extends Medicare coverage of these medications for the life of the transplant, will not only improve the health of these patients but could lead to substantial Medicare savings.
Recently, DPC partnered with Ipsos, a global independent market research firm, to administer and compile results of a survey of DPC’s patient membership. The results showed that 64 percent of respondents are not currently on a kidney transplant list and of those 6 percent cited financial reasons, including not being able to afford the immunosuppressive medications, as the primary financial concern.
This number could be even higher, as 18 percent of survey respondents cited personal reasons for not applying for a transplant list, many of which could be financial in nature. One anonymous patient even stated, “I am not on the list, because if I was to receive a transplant I would not be able to afford the drugs to maintain the transplant.” This survey was also made possible with a grant from Abbott Nutrition.
The Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2011 would eliminate the current time limitation and extend Medicare Part B coverage for kidney transplant recipients for the purpose of immunosuppressive drugs only. This cost-effective, common-sense legislation will not only improve the lives of countless kidney transplant patients, but also use our limited federal resources more effectively.
Congressional action could also generate additional Medicare savings by preventing early rejection of kidney transplants for patients who can no longer afford their medications. A recent New England Journal of Medicine report estimates that extending immunosuppressive drug coverage will save Medicare approximately $200 million annually by helping to prevent early kidney rejections.