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Mark Lukaszewski

On April 1, 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its proposed rule for revision of nutrition and supplement labels (FDA 21 CFR Part 101).

The American Society of Nephrology, together with the National Kidney Foundation and 17 other organizations, developed a joint comment letter to the FDA regarding its proposed modifications (Table 1). The organizations agreed that most of the proposed changes have the potential to improve diets and overall health for millions of Americans. However, the letter focused not on what the FDA included in the proposed rule but rather on changes the agency omitted.

The

While Medicaid is designed to provide health insurance for low-income Americans, states have flexibility within federal guidelines to design their programs. There is limited information on how differences in Medicaid coverage influence chronic disease care. Now a study shows that states with broader Medicaid coverage have lower incidences of kidney failure and smaller insurance-related gaps in access to kidney disease care. The Journal of the American Society of Nephrology findings point to the potential benefits of Medicaid expansion on the prevention and management of a chronic disease.

Chronic disease care is a major source of rising health care

Kevin F. Erickson and Mallika L. Mendu

On May 1, 2014, kidney patient and health professional advocates gathered in Washington, DC, for Kidney Community Advocacy Day. Since 2010, ASN has organized an annual congressional advocacy day to raise awareness about kidney disease and promote issues important to the kidney community.

Building on the momentum from the first-ever Summit of U.S. Kidney Organizations at the society’s annual scientific meeting in 2013, more than 100 advocates from 14 organizations met with 133 congressional offices, including 19 members of Congress—triple the number of participants and double the number of meetings from ASN’s congressional advocacy day in 2013.

All

Mark Lukaszewski

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced a new—and likely its last—request for applications (RFA) for the ESRD Seamless Care Organizations (ESCOs).

If the RFA does not yield the expected 10 to 15 unique ESCO participants, CMS said it will consider scrapping the program. CMS emphasized that it reserves the right to terminate any model if it is not achieving the goals of the initiative. In its announcement, CMS stated that while it is “committed to improving care for beneficiaries with ESRD, the Agency reserves the right to decide not to move forward with the [Comprehensive ESRD

Grant Olan

On Wednesday, April 9, ASN President Sharon M. Moe, MD, FASN, testified before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology about the long overdue need for more innovation in kidney care.

Dr. Moe voiced support for federal prize competitions as a mechanism to spur scientific and technological breakthroughs to improve kidney care and keep people off of dialysis, which, Dr. Moe testified, could result in significant savings to Medicare.

Inspired by the success of private and philanthropic sector prize competitions, the 2010 America COMPETES Act granted broad authority to federal agencies to use prizes to

The “doc fix”— or Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014— that President Obama signed into law in April narrowly averted a 24 percent reduction in Medicare physician payments that was about to go into effect. It was the 17th time Congress enacted legislation to bypass mandated cuts to reimbursements for treating Medicare patients. These laws “patch” required payment decreases calculated by the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. In addition to preventing physician payment cuts, this year’s SGR patch law includes provisions that affect all health care providers, and in particular members of the kidney community.

Modifications to the Medicare
Mark Lukaszewski

On January 6, 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicare Program proposed excluding immunosuppressive drugs from the six protected drug classes covered under Medicare Part D plans.

Although ASN understands the impetus to control health care spending in hard economic times, any cost-cutting approach that also jeopardizes patient safety is not acceptable. In 2013 alone 16,893 patients received a kidney transplant and approximately 121,000 patients were waiting for a kidney, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. ASN was concerned that the CMS proposed rule as written could put transplant recipients at risk for adverse side

Grant Olan

President Barack Obama’s 2015 budget, released Tuesday, March 4, came and went without much notice outside the Washington, DC, beltway. The president’s annual budget, usually released in February, is an important public statement of what he believes national funding priorities should be and is generally used as a starting point for budget negotiations in Congress. However, it is unlikely Congress will adopt many of the president’s recommendations owing to the late date of the report’s release and that 2014 is an election year.

Let’s look at the numbers. For 2015, the president is recommending $30.4 billion for the National Institutes

Mark Lukaszewski

Once again, Congress must address the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. The current law mandates an approximately 24 percent reduction to Medicare physician reimbursement for 2014. Each year Congress has prevented most of these pay cuts from taking effect. Although Congress has long recognized SGR’s flaws, it has been unable to fund a permanent fix.

The SGR and the Congressional Budget Office

For every bill that costs money to implement, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issues a report estimating its cost over a 10-year period. Based on economic projections and other factors, this cost estimate is known as the bill’s

Mark Lukaszewski and Grant Olan

Mark your calendars for World Kidney Day on March 13, 2014. Celebrated on the second Thursday of March every year, World Kidney Day is a joint initiative of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF) to raise awareness about kidney disease. World Kidney Day started in 2006 and highlights a different theme every year. This year’s theme is “Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and Aging.”

The older adult population is rapidly growing. More than 40 million Americans are over 65 today compared to 25 million in 1980. Furthermore, nearly half of those who are 70