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David White

Telehealth and telemedicine reimbursement received big boosts in the two-year budget deal signed into law by President Donald Trump on February 9, 2018, with one senator saying the law does more for Medicare coverage of telehealth than any past legislation.

The budget deal included parts of the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act advocated for by the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) and fellow members of the Telehealth/Remote Monitoring Coalition. Targeted at Medicare’s telehealth and telemedicine reimbursement rules, the new law:

■ adds the patient’s home, without geographic restriction, to the list of originating

David White

The year 2019 promises to be a busy one in healthcare. In the face of a great deal of volatility, Kidney News readers can expect the following.

Mergers and acquisitions: Expect more, and sooner rather than later

A recent Capital One survey found that three-quarters of 291 senior executives across the healthcare spectrum are planning for better business performance in 2019. To exceed 2018 performance levels, 44% support more mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and 25% also expect to revamp or update existing merger offerings already on the table. In the latest figures from 2018, the third quarter saw

David White

After years of advocacy from the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) and other members of the kidney community, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and members of Congress are expressing very similar viewpoints to those of ASN and the broader kidney community on some of the major issues confronting the 40 million men, women, and children facing kidney diseases in the United States.

In May 2019, both the administration and members of Congress demonstrated their commitment to change in two critical areas: immunosuppressive coverage and innovation in the kidney space. Building on a speech HHS Secretary Alex Azar

David White

On July 10, 2019, President Donald J. Trump and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex M. Azar II unveiled a much-anticipated new HHS-wide kidney care initiative called Advancing American Kidney Health (AAKH). The initiative will bring sweeping changes to care for people with kidney diseases, including more focus on upstream treatment to slow the progression of kidney diseases, choices for dialysis modalities, greater access to transplantation, and concerted support for development of innovative therapies, including artificial kidneys.

Executive Order

The initiative was rolled out in a public signing of an Executive Order accompanied by a white paper

David White

With Kidney Week 2016 in review and the end of the year rapidly approaching, one New Year’s treat is already waiting for everyone. It arrived January 1, 2017, as scheduled. The New Year heralds the beginning of the new Quality Payment Program (QPP) that was created by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).

Congress passed MACRA in 2015 with large bipartisan vote margins in both the Senate and House of Representatives. There is widespread consensus that while parts of the program may have to be adjusted if the Affordable Care Act is repealed or modified, the new Medicare

David White

The American Society of Nephrology’s (ASN) Quality Committee has its hands full in 2018. First, the Quality Payment Program (QPP) created by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) enters its second year after a very limited implementation as a transition year in 2017. Foremost, the QPP is beginning to calculate a “cost” section in physician scores and will need to be monitored closely by ASN and other medical societies for unintended consequences. Equally important are efforts to include acute kidney injury (AKI) in the End-Stage Renal Disease Prospective Payment System and Quality Incentive Program (PPS/QIP) and increase access

David White

2018 is shaping up to be the year for designing and proposing integrated care models for testing by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). There are three major factors driving this trend:

Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC).

Request for Information (RFI) by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Innovation Center.

Perception that the train is leaving the station.

With further examination of these three factors, it becomes clearer how closely tied they are to one another.

PTAC

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) created new pathways for the Medicare program to

David White

Nephrologists will see payment increases in some services starting January 1, 2021, according to the proposed rule on the annual physician fee schedule released last month by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). In general, nephrology will see an overall 6% increase with an approximately 30% increase for home dialysis services.

Anupam Agarwal, MD, FASN, ASN President, praised the move by CMS: “Finally, after years of advocacy by ASN, Medicare is supporting nephrologists with rates that better reflect our work. Most importantly, this is a big win for home dialysis, a top priority for ASN.”

Payment and codes
David White

Kidney health care has been constrained for decades by silos of care: chronic kidney disease (CKD), kidney failure and dialysis, and kidney transplant. ASN and its members have long advocated for a change in payment policy and care delivery approaches to disrupt a system that traditionally placed most all the financial incentives on kidney failure treatment. “The current Medicare End-Stage Renal Disease benefit program has long focused on dialysis at the expense of going upstream to slow CKD progression and focusing on pre-emptive transplantation,” said Susan E. Quaggin, MD, FASN, ASN President.

That was until now. The Kidney Care Choices

David White

When Kidney News went to print, the U.S. House of Representatives had passed H.R. 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act. Passed with bipartisan support, H.R. 6 combines provisions from more than 50 bills approved individually by the House.

The bill is designed to help overall efforts to combat the opioid crisis by advancing treatment and recovery initiatives, bolstering prevention efforts, and trying to counter deadly illicit synthetic drugs like fentanyl.

A last-minute addition to the legislative package in the House would extend by three months the period