Working to protect patients
I share Dr. Singh’s concern about the upcoming Medicare payment reductions to dialysis facilities. [“Northwest Voices: Funding for dialysis treatments,” Opinion, seattletimes.com, Aug. 26.]
The policy was included as part of the January “fiscal cliff” package after Congress learned that the use of dialysis drugs had fallen sharply in the past five years. Medicare was instructed to reduce payments to dialysis facilities to prevent overpayment for drugs. This reduction was designed to cut the fat, but cuts shouldn’t hinder quality care. The nation’s 400,000 dialysis patients and their families depend on it.
I want to assure my constituents that I am very engaged in this issue. As the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, the co-chair of the Congressional Kidney Caucus and a physician, I have more than one dog in this fight. I have written to the Medicare agency both before and after it published the proposed rule, expressing my concerns about what this reduction could do to impede access to care, especially in inner-city and rural areas.
I believe that my colleagues in Congress, as well as the Medicare agency, want the dialysis program to continue to be a quality program. As the agency goes about finalizing the new payment rates, I will continue to work with the administrator, as well as with the patients and other stakeholders, to ensure continued access to a high-quality program.
Congressman Jim McDermott (WA-07), Washington, D.C.