February 4, 2015

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.

Hemoglobin trends

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.

February 4, 2015

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.)

January 12, 2015

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.

December 16, 2014

Skewed geographic distribution of star ratings demonstrates program’s flaws, says Dialysis Patient Citizens

December 8, 2014

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.

November 13, 2014

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.

November 13, 2014

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.

November 13, 2014

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will begin implementing a prior authorization demonstration program for non-emergent ambulance transport of dialysis patients in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. CMS believes using a prior authorization process will help ensure services are provided in compliance with Medicare coverage rules, specifically that ambulance providers in those states must obtain documentation from physicians prior to the beginning of service. The requirement does not apply to hospital-based ambulances.

September 10, 2014

Today, Dialysis Patient Citizens received a notice from CMS announcing a three-month delay in implementing its Star Ratings Program for the Dialysis Facility Compare website.

Contrary to CMS’ announcement, a delay alone is not responsive to the concerns expressed by stakeholders and certainly not to those expressed by DPC.  While CMS said it was “partnering with the ESRD community,” it has instead declined to consider input on how to design patient-friendly ratings, and ignored DPC’s requests to see consumer testing materials and the geographic distribution of star assignments.

September 4, 2014

In late August, DPC submitted comments to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on its payment-setting rule for dialysis facilities in 2015. The rule keeps next year’s payments for dialysis level with this year’s, following a mandate from Congress, but makes some changes to the ESRD Quality Incentive Program (“QIP”) that reduces payments to the lowest-performing facilities. Here are highlights of proposed changes along with DPC’s commentary:

Patient Satisfaction Survey Scores To Count Toward QIP Payment Reductions:

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