CMS Releases Final Rule on 9.4% Cut to Medicare ESRD Program

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) just released a final rule on the proposed 9.4% cut to dialysis funding. The final rule made the following changes:
 
  • The payment rate for dialysis services will remain the same in 2014 and 2015.
  • The proposed 12% cut to dialysis was delayed until 2016 and will be phased in over 4 years. 
  • There will be a 50% increase in the home dialysis training payment.

 

In response, DPC released the following statement:
 

DPC appreciates the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) acknowledgment of patient concerns in delaying implementation of its proposed cut to the Medicare End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Program.  While dialysis patients received a temporary reprieve, the final rule does not change CMS’ original proposal to reduce dialysis funding by 12% - it merely delays it two years.  As a result, we remain concerned about the long-term impact of these cuts to both patient access and quality of care.  We are disappointed that CMS chose not to revisit its calculation, and ignored our recommendation that payment reflect the overall cost of care.

We also fear that the scheduled cuts threaten the viability of the ESRD Seamless Care Organization (ESCO) program, which could significantly improve patient outcomes while reducing costs to our health care system.  The ESCO project design requires providers to make significant upfront investments in care coordination, but fewer resources will be at their disposal in years 3, 4 and 5 of the demonstration -- two of which are years that the CMS Innovation Center expects ESCOs to absorb reductions to their share of any savings that they generate for Medicare.

We very much appreciate the decision of CMS to increase the home hemodialysis training rate by 50%, removing one important barrier to patient access.  At the same time, we worry that providers may reduce or eliminate many of their home dialysis programs as they look for ways to offset the 12% cut in reimbursement that they are facing, potentially undermining any increase to patient access that this policy change was intended to advance.

We hope that policymakers will closely examine patient access, experience and outcomes during this upcoming period of uncertainty.

Comments

For those of you who haven't experience what's life is like on dialysis, For those of us who have to spend 4hours and 3days a week hook up to a machine its depressing! Your life as you use to know it has change drastically and if it wasn't for the Kidney foundation some of us would be dead or homeless. The Government will only allow you to make so much money a month and your still below the poverty line with the money you do get. Since I've been on dialysis all my bills are behind I had to move, in order to survive and even with a spouse help its not enough. For them to want to cut 9.4% would be devastating to all of us on dialysis at anytime! Please be considerate with your thinking and remember most families has someone on dialysis right now, talk to them so you can see how important it is ESRD patients to have this service offered to them!

Dialysis Patient Citizens
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Washington, DC 20005

Toll free: 1-866-877-4242
Fax: 888-423-5002
Email: dpc@dialysispatients.org