May is shaping up to be a critical month for the fate of President Donald Trump’s second executive order on immigration that temporarily bans travel from six Muslim-majority countries.
American Society of Nephrology (ASN) is concerned about the impact of the travel bans on the free flow of science and ideas across borders. In a statement in January 2017, ASN President Eleanor D. Lederer, MD, FASN, was quoted as saying “Kidney diseases do not differentiate among race, religion, or geographic borders. As such, the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) is deeply concerned that President Trump’s recent Executive Order on Immigration will disrupt the society’s mission and have a damaging long-term effect on the fight to prevent, treat, and cure kidney diseases across the globe.”
Before Thanksgiving, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, by a vote of 227 to 205. The vote largely fell along party lines, with no Democrats voting for the bill. The House bill has several provisions of concern to the American Society of Nephrology (ASN), including one that could devastate the pipeline of future scientists.
“The already strained kidney science and care workforce—particularly PhD scientists—would be decimated by eliminating the deduction for graduate education and by PAYGO1 cuts to student aid administration program, jeopardizing any hope of future discoveries to cure kidney diseases. Every effort should be taken to encourage, not discourage, the next generation of scientists from pursuing their studies,” wrote ASN President Eleanor D. Lederer, MD, FASN, in a November 22, 2017 memorandum to House and Senate leaders.
Now that the Final Rule is released, what does it mean?
Trick or treating started a little early in Washington. When Medicare released the final rule regarding the Prospective Payment System and the Quality Incentive Program (QIP) on Friday, October 28, ASN found itself holding a mixed bag.
Home Dialysis Training Payment
Medicare nearly doubled the home dialysis training payment to $95.60. ASN believes patients with ESRD need greater access to home dialysis and any barriers to that access should be removed. However, the increase was made “budget neutral” meaning “you have to rob Peter to pay Paul” and no new money was added to the bundle, as ASN had recommended.
Legal update: Yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, CA, held an hour-long oral argument for plaintiffs—represented by the State of Washington—defendants—represented by the U.S. Department of Justice. A conference call is considered an unusual method for hearing oral arguments for Federal Appellate Courts. The Ninth Circuit is considered very influential, covering 20% of the American population. The ruling will almost certainly be followed by an appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Trump Administration on Tuesday, June 19, unveiled the final rule allowing potentially millions of small businesses and self-employed workers to buy health-insurance plans exempt from many Affordable Care Act (ACA) consumer protections. However, plans will still be barred from discriminating against or charging more for individuals with pre-existing conditions. The American Society of Nephrology (ASN) is reviewing the details of the rule now.
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.1 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
In the wake of the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic, the Medicare program is expanding telehealth coverage enabling clinicians to provide a wider range of health care services to their patients without those patients having to travel to a health care facility thereby reducing exposure. The American Society of Nephrology (ASN) strongly supports this bold move. Retroactive to March 6, 2020, Medicare, under waiver authority, will temporarily allow and pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries residing across the entire country.
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).
The Executive Order on Advancing American Kidney Health (Section 8) directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to propose a regulation to remove financial barriers to living organ donation essentially:
ASN supported the proposed rule on Removing Financial Disincentives to Living Organ Donation issued by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of HHS and recommended further changes in its comment letter to the agency February 18, 2020.