Policy

Fewer new cases of ESRD are being reported in the United States and mortality rates are declining, indicating that patients are living longer. The US Renal Data System’s 2014 Annual Data Report noted 636,905 individuals are undergoing treatment for ESRD (dialysis or kidney transplantation), including 114,813 new patients diagnosed with kidney failure in 2012. For 3 consecutive years (2010 to 2012), the growth rate for new cases has declined.

ASN has published a new analysis of the 2014 nephrology fellows survey. The report, the second in a series produced in collaboration with George Washington University investigators, found that although more women are choosing nephrology careers, the majority of 1st and 2nd year fellows were male (61%). Also, most nephrology fellows are international medical graduates (64%).

The largest increase in biomedical and health services research funding in the United States occurred between 1994 and 2004, when funding grew at 6% per year. However, from 2004 to 2012 the rate of investment growth declined to 0.8% annually and reached $117 billion (4.5%) of total health care expenditures. As a percentage of global funding, the United States declined by approximately 13% from 2004 to 2012, and Asian economies increased by approximately the same share.

ASN Past President Sharon M. Moe, MD, FASN, is calling on Congress to support NIH funding and kidney disease research. In a Roll Call op-ed, she notes that general funding for medical research has declined, including in the kidney space.

CMS has introduced the 5-star rating system to the Dialysis Facility Compare website to help patients make informed decisions when choosing a dialysis center. Ratings range from 1 to 5 stars and reflect a facility’s quality of care based on 9 standardized measures.

Over the 25-year period between 1987 and 2012, organ transplants in the US saved 533,329 recipients a total of 2.2 million years of life. In the JAMA Surgery analysis, which compared records of recipients with those placed on a waiting list who never underwent transplantation, each solid organ transplant recipient gained an average of 4.3 years of additional life.

Responding to concerns raised by ASN, the American College of Physicians, and other specialty societies, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) announced important changes to its Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program yesterday. The organization’s decision to change its once-every-10-years MOC program to a more continuous one garnered criticism, and as a result, ABIM is taking steps to suspend the Practice Assessment, Patient Voice, and Patient Safety requirements for at least 2 years.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released the final rule for the Quality Incentive Program (QIP) for payment year (PY) 2017 and PY 2018, under which payment incentives are applied to dialysis facilities. Under the ESRD QIP, facilities that do not achieve a minimum total performance score regarding quality measures will have their payment rates reduced under the ESRD Prospective Payment Program.

ASN has published a report that analyzes trends and factors influencing the current US nephrology workforce authored by leading health workforce researchers from George Washington University. The report outlines several challenges for the specialty, notably a declining interest in nephrology careers among medical students and residents as well as an uncertain job market for recent graduates.

A new guideline issued by the American College of Physicians recommends increased fluid intake spread throughout the day to achieve at least 2 L of urine per day to prevent recurrent kidney stones. It also recommends treatment with a thiazide diuretic, citrate, or allopurinol to prevent recurrent kidney stones in patients with active disease in which increased fluid intake fails to reduce the formation of stones. The guideline is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The American Society of Nephrology (ASN) will award the President’s Medal to Congressional Kidney Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) and Rep. Jim McDermott, MD (D-WA) at the society’s annual meeting, ASN Kidney Week 2014, in Philadelphia, PA, on November 15. This honor recognizes their contributions to championing the cause of patients with kidney disease and raising awareness of the need for more research funding to develop cures. Rep.

The American Society of Nephrology (ASN) will recognize 5 leaders in the fight against kidney disease during the society’s annual meeting, ASN Kidney Week 2014. University of Colorado’s Stuart Linas, MD, FASN, will receive the Robert G. Narins Award. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s Josephine Briggs, MD, will receive the John P. Peters Award.