Senate, House introduce bill that supports improvements in research, treatment of chronic kidney disease

March 5, 2015

The Senate and House of Representatives have introduced the “The Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act” (H.R. 1130, S. 598),a bill that supports improvements in the research, treatment, and care of chronic kidney disease. The bill is similar to one introduced in June 2014, by both legislative bodies.

The legislation was introduced by Representatives Tom Marino, R-Pa., John Lewis, D-Ga., and Peter Roskam, R-Ill., in the House and Senators Ben Cardin, D-Md., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

“This bill is absolutely vital as it provides a clear blueprint for the future of the ESRD program” said Dr. Ed Jones, chairman of Kidney Care Partners and a practicing nephrologist.  “By supporting care coordination, greater patient choice, coordinated research programs, 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 bill would do the following:

(1) Improve the coordination of care:  The legislation would expand care options for patients by allowing individuals diagnosed with kidney failure to enroll in the Medicare Advantage program.  The bill also would reauthorize on a permanent basis the Special Needs Plan (SNP) for patients with kidney failure who need additional care attention, as well as extend the length of time beneficiaries may choose to maintain their existing insurance coverage.  Importantly, the legislation looks to the future by establishing a voluntary coordinated care program.  The coordinated care program would allow physicians and dialysis facilities to work together to improve the coordination of care and reduce costly hospitalizations and rehospitalizations.

(2) Promote patient access and choice:  The legislation would expand patient access to kidney disease education programs and home dialysis treatment options through telemedicine, as well as create incentives for nephrologists and other dialysis health care professionals to work in underserved rural or urban areas. The bills also would establish renal dialysis facilities as a cost-effective alternative to hospital outpatient departments for individuals diagnosed with acute kidney injury.

 (3) Expand research and enhance coordination: The legislation wouldidentify gaps in research and improve the coordination of federal research efforts.  Specifically, the bills would require the Government Accountability Office to assess the adequacy of federal funding for CKD research relative to the expenditures for CKD care and identify gaps in research. Additionally, the bills would require improved coordination among the various federal agencies conducting CKD research by requiring the development of a strategic plan. Third, the bills would require the Secretary to conduct a study to better understand the progression of kidney disease and treatment of kidney failure in minority populations.

“The kidney community applauds Representatives Marino, Lewis and Roskam as well as Senators Cardin, Crapo and Nelson for their long-time leadership and ongoing efforts to protect this important and vulnerable patient population, and we look forward to working with lawmakers to advance legislation that will improve patient choice and outcomes,” 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 their lives to the fullest today and into the future.”

See the original article on Nephrology News & Issues website.