DPC’s annual Kidney Month fly-in was held last Wednesday and Thursday (March 4 & 5). Patient advocates from across the country flew to Washington, DC to speak with their Members of Congress on issues critical to their care. And despite numerous obstacles, they made sure their voices were heard.
Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) were joined by Representatives Tom Marino (R-PA), John Lewis (D-GA) and Peter Roskam (R-IL) in introducing the Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act (S. 598/H.R. 1130) to improve the health of kidney patients. If passed, this bill would provide access to Medicare Advantage (MA) plans for dialysis patients.
The US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) recently announced goals for shifting the traditional fee-for-service Medicare payment model to a pay-for-performance model. In a pay-for-performance model, payment is based on the quality rather than quantity of care provided. One HHS goal is to tie 30% of fee-for-service Medicare payments to quality through alternative payment models like Accountable Care Organizations or bundled payments by the end of 2016, and 50% by the end of 2018. (Rest of article would be linked to on website.)
The Arbor Research Collaborative for Health researches dialysis through their Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study (DOPPS), among other programs. The DOPPS Practice Monitor (DPM) recently released trends they observed in dialysis facilities from 2010-2014.
The recommended hemoglobin level for a dialysis patient is between 10 – 11 g/dl. From 2010 to 2014, mean hemoglobin (Hgb) levels in dialysis patients declined from 11.5 g/dl to 10.9 g/dl.
Open enrollment for individual coverage in the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s public health insurance exchanges began in November of last year. The deadline for enrollment is February 15, 2015.
So far approximately 9.5 million people have either newly enrolled or re-enrolled in the exchanges, with 7.1 million enrolling in the 37 states that use the federal marketplace, HealthCare.gov.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), a membership organization for the nation’s chief insurance regulators, recently named 30 consumer liaison representatives for 2015. Through these representatives, who are committed to the public interest, consumers can interact with NAIC’s membership, the insurance industry and other interested parties.
Skewed geographic distribution of star ratings demonstrates program’s flaws, says Dialysis Patient Citizens
With the gridlock in Congress reaching new heights, it is more important now than ever for dialysis patients to have a strong voice in policymaking. DPC is well-equipped to serve as that voice since it is a patient-led organization (the Board of Directors consists entirely of patients). Joining DPC means you are serious about improving the quality of care for dialysis patients, and sends a signal to legislators that this will be on the top of your mind when you go to the ballot box in November.
Republicans gained control of the U.S. Senate in last week's elections, but this change is not expected to affect Congressional policymaking on dialysis issues. While some health care issues involve contentious partisan bickering, historically the nuts-and-bolts, day-to-day operations of the Medicare program have been managed on a bipartisan basis by Congress' professional staff members, overseen by Congressional committee chairs with expertise on Medicare.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently finalized the payment rule for the Medicare End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) program for 2015. Payment rates will stay the same next year. However, changes to the Quality Improvement Program (QIP) system of "pay for performance" are intended to prioritize new aspects of care for ESRD patients; providers are graded on each element of the "QIP" and receive payment reductions if they don't meet Medicare's standard. This means that providers are expected to add emphasis to these new areas in their interactions with patients.