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The American Society of Nephrology (ASN) is spearheading efforts to secure direct federal allocation of COVID-19 vaccines to dialysis patients and frontline dialysis workers. This allocation would improve access for a vulnerable patient population, more than half of whom are Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders (NHPIs).

Every member of the ASN Alliance for Kidney Health is excited to help elevate care, drive breakthroughs and innovation, educate and inform, and propel policies that create momentous changes in kidney health. To accomplish these goals and others, ASN and the rest of the alliance will:

1. Launch the ASN Health Justice Committee to address health disparities and influence social determinants of health in populations at risk for and overburdened with kidney diseases.

Approximately 50 percent of dialysis patients in the United States are Black, Latinx, Native American, or Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders (NHPIs).  These individuals are underrepresented in COVID-19 vaccination rates. In Virginia, for instance, Black people represent 19% of residents while accounting for 21% of the state’s COVID-19 cases and 24% of its deaths; however, Black Virginians have received only 12% of vaccines administered in the state to date.2

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has asked ASN to share with its members that the ESRD Quality Reporting System (EQRS) has been suspended due to data submitting issues. 

Users are asked not to submit additional data at this time CMS writes “We are committed to ensuring the accuracy and reliability of our data, and are working to rapidly resolve these issues.”

Organ Procurement Organizations Conditions for Coverage: Revisions to the Outcome Measure Requirements for Organ Procurement Organizations will take effect March 30, 2021

Last November, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) acted, as advocated for by ASN, to increase organ donation rates and transplantation rates, applying new standards of accountability and transparency to the nation’s Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs).  HHS did this by finalizing  a rule that imposes new transparency requirements for the nation’s 58 OPOs to receive payment from Medicare and Medicaid. Approximately 113,000 Americans are on transplant waiting lists.

ASN is now accepting nominations for its Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Brian Hess, a lifelong kidney advocate, passed away on December 3, 2020.

Despite being diagnosed with kidney disease at a young age and undergoing dialysis for the majority of his life, Brian refused to let kidney disease slow him down. Brian graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma while maintaining his dialysis regime.

 

Today the US Senate passed the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act, extending Medicare coverage of life saving immunosuppressive medications for the life of the kidney transplant. This welcome advance will take effect in 2023.

This tremendous advance results from countless hours of advocacy by ASN members and stakeholders throughout the kidney and transplant communities

David White

On Thursday, December 17 from 5:00 - 6:30 pm EST the American Society of Nephrology will host a webinar reviewing key components of the ESRD Treatment Choices (ETC) Model (going into effect January 1, 2021).

This webinar will be an opportunity for ASN members to learn important details about the federal government’s mandatory model to use payment policy to increase kidney patient choice of home dialysis and kidney transplantation.  ETC will include 30% of Medicare ESRD beneficiaries, nephrologists, and dialysis facilities randomized from hospital referral regions (HRRs) across the country. 

Dialysis patients incur a greater burden of illness compared to the general population, and those dependent on maintenance dialysis are extremely vulnerable to the effects of infection with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, observe the authors of a recent article, “Prioritizing COVID-19 Vaccination in Dialysis.”

To read the article, click here.