In mid-November, DPC staff traveled to Salem, Oregon, to attend an informational hearing held by the Oregon House Committee on Health Care regarding outpatient dialysis treatment. The hearing focused on issues such as improving and expanding patient access to care while exploring ways in which to lower the cost of health care delivery for dialysis patients.
While there, DPC staff also took the opportunity to meet individually with nearly all the Members of the House and Senate Health Committees or their staff. The goal of our meetings was to educate policy makers on dialysis issues and help ensure a positive outcome for End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) patients.
There are approximately 6,575 ESRD patients living in Oregon, more than 900 of whom received help paying their health care premiums in 2018. The vast majority of these patients—more than eighty percent—are on Medicare and received help from the American Kidney Fund (AKF) to pay their Part B or supplement insurance premium in order to help reduce their out-of-pocket costs. Without this vital financial assistance from AKF, many of these patients wouldn’t be able to afford their life saving dialysis treatment. Earlier in 2019, the Oregon Senate Committee on Health Care tabled SB 900, a bill that sought to significantly lower dialysis reimbursement rates paid by health plans to dialysis providers when such payments were made by third-parties such as AKF.