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August 30, 2013 at 11:29 AM
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.
August 26, 2013 at 6:56 AM
Protect kidney-failure patients
As a regional director for a major local dialysis provider, I contribute to the care of hundreds of kidney-failure patients daily.
This is a complicated lifesaving treatment, which we deliver on a clinically effective and highly cost efficient basis.
I am very concerned over a recent proposal by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that would cut Medicare reimbursement for dialysis care by as much as 12 percent.
Considering that Medicare reimbursement fails to cover the cost of dialysis currently, piling on more cuts would be devastating to the hundreds of thousands of patients on dialysis who depend on Medicare, and their caregivers.
The effects of these proposed cuts to dialysis care could force reductions in staffing levels, reduce access to additional services such as social workers, nurses or dietitians and, potentially, dramatically reduce access to dialysis care in Seattle altogether.
Clinics could be forced to close or consolidate, requiring patients who are often already very sick from a number of other comorbidities, to travel far distances for their life-sustaining care. Many may not attend on a regular basis and become much more sick over time, costing the health system far more in the long run.
It’s important for us all to recognize that, without ready access to dialysis care and ancillary services, patients with kidney failure will die. Contact our Congress member, Rep. Jim McDermott, and ask him to ensure that the CMS maintain appropriate funding to continue providing lifesaving care.
Robin Singh, regional operations manager of the Olympic View Dialysis Center, Davita HealthCare Partners Inc., Seattle
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