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Health professionals are facing a barrage of unexpected challenges when caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing these challenges often requires sustained effort by policy experts, who make the case to government and regulatory agencies when urgent, sometimes unprecedented changes, must be enacted to provide the best possible care. Members of the ASN policy team have successfully advocated for a number of key changes during this crisis. Ryan Murray, ASN Senior Policy Specialist, provides an update.
Bookmark this resource for a collection of the efforts to improve care during the COVID-19 pandemic. KNO will continue to provide you an updated breakdown of the ongoing work of the Policy and Government Affairs team.
The American Society of Nephrology (ASN) provided comments and critique of the proposed rule on Medicare Advantage (MA) for 2021 and 2022 on April 6, 2020. In 2021, by law, MA plans will be open to patients with kidney failure as opposed to those who were already enrolled in MA plans before advancing to kidney failure and remain enrolled after kidney failure.
People with kidney diseases experience higher risk during health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. To address the essential needs of this high-risk population, advocates from the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) and the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) met with representatives, senators, and their respective staffs April 1, 2020 as part of the annual Kidney Health Advocacy Day (KHAD).
After much urging from the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) and other members of the kidney community, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a sweeping interim final rule on March 30 that provides multiple waivers the community requested to provide greater flexibility during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). Of particular importance for ASN members, the rule greatly expands the use of telehealth in providing care to kidney patients – especially those with kidney failure receiving dialysis – for the duration of the PHE. CMS clarified that all evaluations of dialysis patients covered under the ESRD monthly capitated payment (MCP) may now be conducted via telehealth to protect those vulnerable patients and prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus 2019.
People who receive dialysis at home, and the nephrologists who care for them, need additional options in order to receive care, and reduce risk of infection, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the work of the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) and other members of the kidney community, important actions to protect these vulnerable patients have been enacted into law.
On Friday, March 27, 2020, the CARES Act* was signed into law. Section 3705 of this act eliminates a statutory requirement for a nephrologist to conduct a face-to-face evaluation of a home dialysis patient, allowing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue emergency waivers so the entire visit can be conducted via telehealth. The emergency waiver authority will remain in place during the COVID-19 emergency period.
After much dialogue with the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) and other members of the kidney community, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) today clarified its guidance on deferring nonessential surgical procedures during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The clarification clearly identifies Arteriovenous Fistulas, Arteriovenous Grafts, Peritoneal Dialysis Catheters, and intravenous catheters as planned procedures that are essential for establishing the vascular access that “is crucial for End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) patients to receive their life-sustaining dialysis treatments.” Since the issuance of the original guidance, many ASN members have expressed their serious concerns that these procedures were being grouped with elective surgeries and, subsequently, being denied. Go to the ASN COVID-19 Response page for more information.
Given the enormous impact of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the healthcare system, the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) and other members of the kidney community have requested regulatory relief for clinicians and facilities on multiple fronts over the past few weeks. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and other agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services are responding in kind. The following is an update for ASN members on several major steps of importance to nephrologists and their patients that CMS has taken, particularly:
Calling attention to the unique needs of kidney patients in the COVID-19 Pandemic and advocating for specific policy changes to meet those needs was ASN President Anupam Agarwal, MD, FASN’s focus during a meeting Wednesday afternoon with President Donald Trump. The meeting also included Vice President Mike Pence, US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar, JD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, MD, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, and Coronavirus Response Coordinator Ambassador Deborah Birx, MD, as well as representatives from 15 other medical professional societies.
The approximately 500,000 Americans on dialysis and 222,000 Americans with kidney transplants are among the most vulnerable to the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. ASN is coordinating with the federal government to address the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the highest quality of care for those affected by kidney disease.
In a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Alex Azar, ASN suggests multiple temporary policy changes in the context of this pandemic that affect those living with kidney disease including: