While Congress was in recess during the month of August, DPC Patient Ambassadors used this opportunity to engage their legislators at home. Patient Ambassadors attended meetings with congressional staff, hosted facility tours and wrote letters to the editor in support of The Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act (H.R. 1130, S. 598). Facility tours and meetings took place all across the country.
During the August recess, Congressman Joe Pitts took the opportunity to engage with dialysis patients in his home district. He recently visited the Reading Dialysis Center in Reading, PA where he received a tour of the facility and met with dialysis nurses and staff. As Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, he is an influential decision maker when it comes to kidney care issues.
When the FDA approves a generic drug, it’s based on the chemicals contained in the original brand medication. Congress recently enacted a similar process for the approval of “biosimilars” based on the original biologic medication. The main difference is that the “biosimilar” is approved based on its development process. Biosimilars have the potential to be a cheaper alternative for expensive biologic medications such as Epogen, a drug used for anemia management.
It is well known that the best treatment for end-stage renal disease patients is a kidney transplant. While there are many health factors the affect a patients’ ability to receive a transplant, a recent study found that only 28 percent of adult patients beginning dialysis were even referred for kidney transplant evaluations.
The Medicare five-star rating system, maintained by the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services’ (CMS), has recently come under scrutiny by the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness (CRE). In a letter from last month, CRE officials report that multiple entities have contacted them about the system possibly violating federal regulations.
In passing the President's trade legislation last month, Congress enacted a longtime priority of kidney care advocates: permitting patients with acute kidney injury (AKI) to be treated in dialysis clinics. Under current law, AKI patients may only receive dialysis at hospitals, which is more costly to the Medicare program and less convenient for patients.
Earlier this spring, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee invited stakeholders to submit ideas to improve care for Medicare beneficiaries with chronic diseases. DPC submitted its comments on June 22 with a focus on how end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients could benefit from increased care coordination among providers.
Kidney Care Partners, in coordination with the Congressional Kidney Caucus, recently hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill to stress the importance of ensuring quality kidney care now and in the future. The briefing featured opening remarks by Kidney Caucus co-chairs, Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), who both emphasized the need for increased awareness and research for kidney care issues.