AKF Concerned with Medicare Cuts

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ROCKVILLE, Md.—The American Kidney Fund (AKF) expressed deep concern over a decision by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to cut Medicare payments for dialysis by 12 percent– or nearly $30 per treatment– over the next 3 to 4 years.

Medicare covers treatment for about 85 percent of the nation’s dialysis patients. The AKF is concerned that the cut will reduce Medicare payments to a level that will limit patients’ options for quality care, and that phasing in the cut over a period of years will not mitigate its harmful effect.

“Dialysis is a life-sustaining treatment for people with kidney failure, and patients rely on access to quality care,” said LaVarne A. Burton, president and chief executive officer, AKF. “While we commend Medicare’s commitment to remaining a viable health care option for patients with kidney failure, the phase-in of these measures will not change the risks associated with the dramatic cuts that the kidney community now faces. We are concerned that these cuts will force dialysis centers to make tough decisions, which may include a reduction in staffing, facility hours, drug availability or a complete shutdown of some treatment centers.”

“Ultimately, our concern is that these payment reductions will create a domino effect that could include higher hospitalization rates and an increase in the risk of patient mortality, driving up overall health care costs while preventing patients from obtaining high quality care,” Burton said.

More than 1,000 members of AKF's patient advocacy network sent messages to lawmakers this year, urging them to protect the Medicare dialysis benefit.

“We have been advocating for a sustainable bundled payment system, and the end result of the Medicare 12 percent cut, while perhaps not immediate, will be detrimental to the millions of Americans living with kidney failure,” said Burton. “The American Kidney Fund will continue our advocacy effort to ensure that patients have access to quality care and financial assistance as the new system is implemented, and we thank the members of Congress who have worked, and continue to work, tirelessly with us to protect kidney patients in their districts.”

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