ASN on the Hill: Making Gains for Kidney Patients

By David White

Some good news out of Washington:  Major gains for kidney patients and nephrologists were proposed Thursday, October 27, by the Senate Finance Committee (SFC). 

The Committee’s bipartisan Chronic Care Working Group released draft legislation to improve outcomes for Medicare patients living with chronic conditions – including kidney disease. Numerous provisions ASN advocated for are included in the draft bill, such as allowing patients using home dialysis to interact with their nephrologist via telemedicine from home, and permitting ESRD patients the option to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans (which is not presently allowed). 

Some highlights you should know about:

Allowing home dialysis patients to interact with their nephrologist for the monthly visit via telehealth from their home, if both parties choose. This eliminates the need for home dialysis patients to travel to see their provider every month – while still requiring at least one in-person visit every three months.  This could help patients who are actively employed or seeking employment.  Telehealth would also permit children to minimize school absences, decrease transportation costs, and decrease lost work days for parents.

Giving patients with ESRD the option to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.  ESRD is the only pre-existing condition that bars people from participating in Medicare Advantage.  If passed into law, patients with ESRD would enjoy the same freedom of choice and access to improved coordinated services as other Medicare-enrolled individuals -- enabling them to benefit from greater care coordination.

Examining Medicare coverage of a one-time visit for patients to discuss the severity of their kidney disease diagnosis, and what they should expect in the future. A nuanced conversation can help patients understand how they can slow disease progression and help prevent the need for costly and time-consuming dialysis for as long as possible.  This visit would be an excellent opportunity to educate patients regarding other treatment options such as transplantation or home dialysis.

Ensuring the risk adjustment model used for Medicare Advantage plans is properly designed and accounts for the unique and complex needs of the vulnerable CKD and ESRD patient populations.

These changes could make Medicare much more flexible and responsive to the needs of patients with kidney disease, and provide you more latitude in helping your patients.  

ASN worked closely with the Committee, other Senate champions, and stakeholders on the legislation and will continue advocacy efforts to enact it.   

Questions? Write policy@asn-online.org

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Some good news out of Washington:  Major gains for kidney patients and nephrologists were proposed Thursday, October 27, by the Senate Finance Committee (SFC). 

The Committee’s bipartisan Chronic Care Working Group released draft legislation to improve outcomes for Medicare patients living with chronic conditions – including kidney disease. Numerous provisions ASN advocated for are included in the draft bill, such as allowing patients using home dialysis to interact with their nephrologist via telemedicine from home, and permitting ESRD patients the option to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans (which is not presently allowed). 

Some highlights you should know about:

Allowing home dialysis patients to interact with their nephrologist for the monthly visit via telehealth from their home, if both parties choose. This eliminates the need for home dialysis patients to travel to see their provider every month – while still requiring at least one in-person visit every three months.  This could help patients who are actively employed or seeking employment.  Telehealth would also permit children to minimize school absences, decrease transportation costs, and decrease lost work days for parents.

Giving patients with ESRD the option to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.  ESRD is the only pre-existing condition that bars people from participating in Medicare Advantage.  If passed into law, patients with ESRD would enjoy the same freedom of choice and access to improved coordinated services as other Medicare-enrolled individuals -- enabling them to benefit from greater care coordination.

Examining Medicare coverage of a one-time visit for patients to discuss the severity of their kidney disease diagnosis, and what they should expect in the future. A nuanced conversation can help patients understand how they can slow disease progression and help prevent the need for costly and time-consuming dialysis for as long as possible.  This visit would be an excellent opportunity to educate patients regarding other treatment options such as transplantation or home dialysis.

Ensuring the risk adjustment model used for Medicare Advantage plans is properly designed and accounts for the unique and complex needs of the vulnerable CKD and ESRD patient populations.

These changes could make Medicare much more flexible and responsive to the needs of patients with kidney disease, and provide you more latitude in helping your patients.  

ASN worked closely with the Committee, other Senate champions, and stakeholders on the legislation and will continue advocacy efforts to enact it.   

Questions? Write policy@asn-online.org