Kidney Care Provisions in Fiscal Cliff Package Place Added Pressure on Dialysis Patients

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WASHINGTON—The kidney care community is committed to being good stewards of Medicare dollars, which is why we believe the new dialysis payment system should reflect the total cost of caring for patients with kidney failure.  We also believe it is important to allow the experts, armed with the most up-to-date and accurate data, to work with the kidney community to accomplish this. 

Provisions contained in the just-passed fiscal cliff package require a rebasing of the new Medicare dialysis payment system. Expected to save Medicare funds, rebasing comes on the heels of numerous cuts to dialysis funding, cuts that have resulted in tenuous economics for many dialysis facilities.  If implemented inappropriately, rebasing can have a devastating impact on vulnerable patients.  Access to high quality care for individuals with kidney failure also will be threatened if the fragile economics of dialysis facilities are further undermined by any additional cuts, whether through sequestration or other action.

Medicare covers 85 percent of the estimated 400,000 individuals receiving dialysis in America, making Medicare’s funding of dialysis crucial to the health of the dialysis system.

We urge Congress and the Administration to protect the kidney care community from the looming sequestration cuts—and from any other cuts. 

We also urge Health and Human Services (HHS) officials, in implementing the fiscal cliff legislation, to:

  • Use the most recent data on utilization and costs
  • Examine the payment system holistically
  • Address other flaws in the calculation of Medicare dialysis payments

By working with the kidney care community to implement these provisions and by avoiding sequestration-related cuts, the federal government can assure continued high quality care for individuals with kidney failure who depend on dialysis to live.

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