Since 1972 Medicare has covered patients on dialysis and those who have received a kidney transplant. But, while there is no Medicare time limit for coverage of a dialysis patient, kidney transplant recipients lose their Medicare coverage 36 months after receiving their transplant.
Simply put: TRANSPLANT PATIENTS LOSE THEIR COVERAGE for drugs that prevent rejection.
This is a particular problem for LOW INCOME AND MINORITY patients, such as African Americans and Latinos who either don't have insurance coverage or don't have money to buy coverage. Extending Medicare coverage for drugs WOULD PREVENT this from happening.
Having patients return back to dialysis because they cannot afford their medications makes no sense.
Kidney transplantation provides superior outcomes and better quality of life as compared to chronic dialysis. Transplantation is also nearly 8 times less expensive than dialysis. Having patients return back to the transplant waiting list and go in line again for a re-transplant makes absolutely no sense – aside from the human cost, it increases overall health care costs and escalates an already critical shortage in kidneys.
On September 20th 2011, Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R--Texas) and Congressman Ron Kind (D--Wisconsin) introduced the “Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act” (H.R. 2969). U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D--Illinois), Thad Cochran (R--Mississippi) and Scott Brown (R--Massachusetts) have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
This bipartisan legislation will allow individuals who are eligible for immunosuppressive drugs under Medicare Part B to continue to receive their vital treatment past the 36-month cutoff. We need the Obama Administration to support this proposed legislation.
The proposed legislation has the strong support of the American Society of Transplantation, the National Kidney Foundation, Dialysis Patient Citizens, among others.
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