Reps. Introduce Bill that Supports Improvements in Research, Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease

Published by Nephrology News & Issues
June 10, 2014

Reps. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) and John Lewis (D-Ga.) have introduced “The Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act (H.R. 4814),” a bill that supports improvements in the research, treatment, and care of chronic kidney disease.

“This bill is important because it provides a blueprint for the future of the ESRD program” said Dr. Ed Jones, chairman of Kidney Care Partners and a practicing nephrologist. “By supporting coordinated research programs, greater patient choice, and economic stability, this legislation would strengthen the delivery of care for millions of Americans living with kidney disease.”

According to Kidney Care Partners, “The Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act” would do the following:

(1) Improve understanding of kidney disease: The legislation would identify the gaps in critical research and improve the coordination of federal research efforts. The bill would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) submit a report on ways to improve care management, including progression of kidney disease and treatment of kidney failure in minority populations, who are disproportionally impacted by kidney disease. The bill directs the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary to evaluate and report on the biological, social, and behavioral factors that affect care.

(2) Improve beneficiary access to treatments for kidney disease: The bill would improve access to pre-dialysis kidney disease education programs to better manage patients’ disease condition and even prevent kidney failure. Nephrologists and other health professionals would also be incentivized to work in underserved rural and urban areas, and current payment policies would be modified to encourage home dialysis, which is not incentivized under the current Medicare payment structure. Patients with acute kidney failure would also be allowed to receive treatments through dialysis providers, therefore reducing costs associated with care provided in the more expensive hospital outpatient setting.

(3) Expand patient choice and improve the coordination of care: The legislation would expand the options for patients by allowing individuals diagnosed with kidney failure to enroll in the Medicare Advantage program. It would also reauthorize on a permanent basis the Special Needs plan for patients with kidney failure, as well as extend the length of time beneficiaries may choose to maintain their existing insurance coverage. Most importantly, the legislation looks to the future by establishing a voluntary coordinated care program. The coordinated care program would allow doctors and dialysis facilities to work together to improve the coordination of care and reduce costly hospitalization.

“The kidney community applauds Representatives Marino and Lewis for their long-time leadership and ongoing efforts to protect our nation’s most vulnerable patient population, and we look forward to working with Congress to advance this important legislation,” added Dr. Jones. “The Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act ensures that individuals with kidney disease have the tools, resources, and care they need to live life to the fullest today and into the future.”

See the original article here.