ASN Recommends Temporary Policy Changes to Trump Administration Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

By Killian Gause

March 20, 2020

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:

1. Establishing flexibility to improve the safety of and access to dialysis care by rapidly bringing new outpatient dialysis units online and re-designating certain inpatient units to allow outpatient dialysis

2. Expanding access to care via telehealth by temporarily:

  • Permitting telephonic interactions when synchronous, two-way technology is not available (and allowing physicians to be reimbursed for this care)
  • Adding E/M codes for the care of patients with chronic kidney disease, on in-center dialysis, and awaiting kidney transplant or donation to the list of Medicare-approved telehealth services
  • Waiving all originating site and geographic restrictions for all currently approved telehealth services
  • Allowing health professionals to temporarily be allowed to provide care across state lines regardless of state-based certification via telehealth or in-person
     

3. Increasing the supply of, and prioritizing access to, testing kits for dialysis patients and transplant care, including both deceased and living transplant donors

4. Pausing Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement (QAPI) requirements mandating that home patients go into dialysis units for routine testing and suspend QAPI reporting requirements on a temporary basis.

5. Pursuing innovative technology solutions, now and in the future

  • The KidneyX Steering Committee is actively discussing how KidneyX (a public-private partnership between HHS and ASN) can assist or partner to bring forward the necessary technology to fill development gaps
     

6. Issuing 1135 waivers as necessary to enable to above actions to support the those with kidney disease and enable the healthcare system to respond optimally to the COVID19 pandemic
 

The complete letter to Secretary Azar can be read here.

More information specifically on the expansion of telehealth recently announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid can be accessed here.

More resources on COVID-19 developed by Nephrologists Transforming Dialysis Safety (ASN’s partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and other national and international health organizations can be found here.

ASN will continue to advocate on behalf of the 37,000,000 Americans afflicted with kidney disease during these uncertain times and provide frequent updates to the nearly 22,000 ASN members who are on the front lines of kidney care.

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Author:
Killian Gause
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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:

1. Establishing flexibility to improve the safety of and access to dialysis care by rapidly bringing new outpatient dialysis units online and re-designating certain inpatient units to allow outpatient dialysis

2. Expanding access to care via telehealth by temporarily:

  • Permitting telephonic interactions when synchronous, two-way technology is not available (and allowing physicians to be reimbursed for this care)
  • Adding E/M codes for the care of patients with chronic kidney disease, on in-center dialysis, and awaiting kidney transplant or donation to the list of Medicare-approved telehealth services
  • Waiving all originating site and geographic restrictions for all currently approved telehealth services
  • Allowing health professionals to temporarily be allowed to provide care across state lines regardless of state-based certification via telehealth or in-person
     

3. Increasing the supply of, and prioritizing access to, testing kits for dialysis patients and transplant care, including both deceased and living transplant donors

4. Pausing Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement (QAPI) requirements mandating that home patients go into dialysis units for routine testing and suspend QAPI reporting requirements on a temporary basis.

5. Pursuing innovative technology solutions, now and in the future

  • The KidneyX Steering Committee is actively discussing how KidneyX (a public-private partnership between HHS and ASN) can assist or partner to bring forward the necessary technology to fill development gaps
     

6. Issuing 1135 waivers as necessary to enable to above actions to support the those with kidney disease and enable the healthcare system to respond optimally to the COVID19 pandemic
 

The complete letter to Secretary Azar can be read here.

More information specifically on the expansion of telehealth recently announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid can be accessed here.

More resources on COVID-19 developed by Nephrologists Transforming Dialysis Safety (ASN’s partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and other national and international health organizations can be found here.

ASN will continue to advocate on behalf of the 37,000,000 Americans afflicted with kidney disease during these uncertain times and provide frequent updates to the nearly 22,000 ASN members who are on the front lines of kidney care.

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Date:
Friday, March 20, 2020