Kidney Care Community Supports Kidney Patients' Right To Choose

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Kidney Disease

In response to the House-passed Children's Health and Medicare Protection (CHAMP) Act of 2007 provision to extend Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) in the End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) program for patients who rely on dialysis care, Kidney Care Partners (KCP) -- an alliance of patient advocates, dialysis professionals, care providers and manufacturers working together to improve quality of care for individuals with kidney disease and kidney failure -- strongly endorses extending patients' right to remain with their commercial coverage for an additional 12 months - a total of 42 months. KCP believes that the additional 12 months strikes the correct balance between the current law of 30 months and proposed extensions of up to 60 months.

Under the current Medicare MSP provision, Medicare takes over as primary coverage after 30 months. The CHAMP act would extend the MSP provision an additional 12 months for patients within large health plans - those plans defined as having more than 100 employees. This extension would benefit approximately 10,000 out of the more than 400,000 Medicare ESRD patients and would have a negligible impact on large employer premiums.

"Despite what some large corporations are saying, this extension impacts a modest number of patients spread across a much larger population and would be a huge benefit to patients and the Medicare benefit," said Dr. Edward Jones, a practicing nephrologist and Chairman of KCP. "A 12 month extension of the MSP provision gives some patients with private insurance a choice in their healthcare coverage. Further, KCP believes that extending this provision by 12 months will encourage large health plans to focus more heavily on disease prevention, address co-morbidities and encourage use of fistulas in the future. And since quality patient care is our community's number one priority, Kidney Care Partners strongly supports the House-passed MSP extension."

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Patients with kidney failure are the only patient group in America that is forced to leave their private insurance and go onto Medicare.

"We want to stay in our private plan for as long as possible because Medicare premiums cost much more, and patients with families could end up paying double premiums and higher co-pays --which we cannot afford," said Sue Bailey, wife of a kidney dialysis patient in Bluemont, VA. "We feel that we should not be discriminated against. It is only fair that we continue to at least have the choice of staying with our plan for a bit longer. "

"Families like mine are grateful that Congress has finally understood how difficult it is for some patients to move from their private plans to the complicated Medicare program," added Bailey. "An extension of this program means the world for my family who needs the additional coverage and lower co-pays."

KCP believes that an MSP extension must be part of Medicare ESRD program reforms and the savings generated by this extension can help support those reforms. KCP also believes that this extension will have a minor impact on cost to large employers while having a major impact on the lives of approximately 10,000 patients.

"KCP salutes the House of Representatives for including this important provision in the CHAMP Act which is widely regarded across the kidney care community as good for patients, good for the Medicare program," concluded Dr. Jones. "KCP calls on the United States Senate to adopt the House provision."

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