Hrant Jamgochian, CEO of Dialysis Patient Citizens, participated in a congressional briefing sponsored by the Alliance for Home Dialysis on May 16th. DPC joined hip-hop artist David Rush, former U.S. Representative Karen Thurman, Larry Weisberg and Dr. Sue Quaggin to provide policymakers with policy options to improve access to home dialysis. DPC’s most recent membership survey indicated significant insurance barriers to access for home dialysis. However, the largest barrier for most patients was the lack of a care partner.
The DPC survey found that while 74% of ESRD patients overall were informed about the option of home hemodialysis, there was an information gap of 17 percentage points between patients covered by Medicare (77%) and Medicaid (60%). State governments are leaving money on the table by not addressing this disparity. State Medicaid programs pay for the first three months of an uninsured ESRD patient’s treatment unless the patient begins training for a home dialysis modality, in which case federal Medicare coverage begins immediately.
Besides an information gap, many patients say they haven’t considered home hemodialysis because they do not have a caregiver at home to assist with their treatment. DPC is considering a few policy options to increase caregiver access including a Medicaid demonstration project focused on providing these caregivers. While this is merely in the concept stages, the demonstration would include providing Medicaid reimbursement to direct-care workers who are assisting with home dialysis.
DPC is continuing to work on policy solutions to encourage patients to receive their treatment at home and will continue to participate in briefings and information sessions to educate policymakers on the benefits of this treatment type.