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Calling for Increased Protections for Individuals with Kidney Disease Impacted by COVID-19, Nation’s Kidney Care Community Announces 2021 Priorities on World Kidney Day

March 11, 2021

WASHINGTON – Kidney Care Partners (KCP) – the nation’s leading kidney care multi-stakeholder coalition representing patient advocates, physician organizations, health professional groups, dialysis providers, researchers and manufacturers – today announced its strategic policy priorities for 2021.

Recognizing both the historic challenges imposed by the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, as well as the diverse spectrum of KCP membership organizations, this year’s priorities focus on a targeted set of patient-centric policy objectives, including eliminating barriers to patient access for new and innovative treatment options for dialysis patients, expanding access to home dialysis and transplants, protecting access to beneficiary coverage choices, supporting access to care for patients vulnerable to COVID-19, and increasing quality performance transparency.

“Kidney disease continues to be a significant public health crisis that imposes considerable burdens on millions of American patients and the nation’s healthcare system more broadly,” said John P. Butler, Chair of KCP. “Now more than ever, it is essential that policymakers understand the scope of chronic kidney disease goes far beyond end-stage kidney disease and dialysis. It’s a complex disease continuum with many critical elements and points where effective patient engagement can have a positive impact on patient health. As such, our priorities support the full disease cycle, from education and prevention to dialysis, transplant and post-transplant care. Our priorities underscore the urgent need for decisive, coordinated action from the Biden Administration, Congress, and the kidney care community as a whole. Reforms are necessary to make the care system patient-centered and sustainable for the long-term.”

COVID-19

In the new year, one of KCP’s most urgent objectives is to leverage ongoing treatment within dialysis facilities to allow for the expeditious administration of COVID-19 vaccines. Dialysis patients are uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19, and the federal government should allocate vaccines directly to dialysis facilities, just as they have done for skilled nursing facilities and critical access hospitals. Demands for expanded vaccine access come as Medicare hospitalization data continues to chronicle the devastating toll of COVID-19 on vulnerable kidney patients.

Support Patient Choice of Treatment Options and Coverage

Another important priority for KCP is to expand choice and innovation to all Americans living with kidney disease or failure. We hope to work constructively with Congress to expand access to care – through solutions like covering kidney disease screening in Medicare wellness visits, supporting and improving the placement of dialysis vascular access ports for patients transitioning to dialysis, as well as advocating for policies promoting access and choice in kidney care.

“In the new year, we’re eager to pursue novel ways to meet patients where they are and eliminate persistent barriers to care. To do so, we need to work with Congress and policymakers to expand access to home dialysis,” said Butler. “We are also committed to developing and advocating for policies to promote and encourage innovation. Specifically, we’ll work to eliminate barriers to the long-term adoption of innovative products and services in the ERSD Prospective Payment System (PPS) and Medicare Advantage (MA) program. We will also support efforts to increase both NIH funding for kidney disease research and expanded funding for KidneyX.”

Modernize the Medicare End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Benefit

“One of the ongoing dilemmas of the current ESRD benefit is the lack of a clear, streamlined process to allow adoption and sustained access to new, innovative products that can significantly improve the patient treatment pathway,” said Butler. “We are calling for the modernization of this benefit to remove barriers to innovative care and update payment policies to ensure kidney patients have access to the latest and most advanced treatment modalities.”

Important elements of modernizing the benefit include: providing opportunities for clinicians, providers, and facilities of all types, sizes, and geographic locations to participate in innovative payment models; improving payment for the ESRD benefit, which historically does not cover the cost of providing services; continuing efforts to seek the appropriate implementation of policies related to incorporating new products into the ESRD PPS; and seeking elimination of policies that create barriers to promoting high-quality care, such as inappropriate payment adjusters.

Advance Kidney Care Quality

Every year, KCP seeks ways to advance kidney care quality for the increasing number of Americans who need it. In 2021, we plan to continue these efforts by seeking to streamline the quality programs and make sure that the measures used in the Quality Incentive Program (QIP) and Dialysis Five Star are valid and reliable so that patients and care partners have a clear understanding of provider performance.

“Achieving our policy objectives will require continued constructive collaboration between our kidney care community and policymakers toward our shared goal of access and choice to quality kidney care for those living with chronic kidney disease, end stage renal disease and transplants,” Butler added. “I am confident that through close coordination with the Biden Administration and the new Congress, we can realize our 2021 goals and effect real positive change for individuals impacted by kidney disease.”

To view a complete list of KCP’s 2021 priorities, CLICK HERE.