New Bill: The Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act
This legislation would allow individuals who are eligible for immunosuppressive drugs under Medicare Part B to continue to receive their treatment past the current 36-month cutoff
Years ago, dedicated Long Island TRIO volunteers worked overtime corresponding with members of Congress obtaining support and co-sponsors for The Benefits Improvement and Protection Act (BIPA).
With the help of Florence and Jerry Sosna, we led a letter writing campaign and were able to obtain hundreds of signatures signing each letter to members of Congress. There was a significant response from members of Congress and members of their staff. The bills became law and it improved the lives of so many people.
The Benefits Improvement and Protection Act expanded Medicare coverage for post transplantation immunosuppressants for transplant recipients age 65 and older and others eligible for Medicare beyond their end-stage renal disease (ESRD) status. This helped save lives.
Now, H.R.6139 – Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2016 will help renal transplant recipients obtain life enhancing immunosuppressive medications necessary to preserve the viability of their transplanted kidney that restored their life.
Currently, those impacted with Kidney Failure or End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) are covered through the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for dialysis treatment. With respect to kidney transplant recipients, those who are over 65 and those who are disabled receive lifetime coverage. Unfortunately, CMS coverage for kidney transplant recipients who are not 65 or older or disabled is terminated 36 months after kidney transplant. This bill will extend CMS coverage solely for immunosuppressive medications that the kidney transplant recipient must take indefinitely.
We will let you know when it’s time once again to write letters to members of Congress in order to let them know that you support the Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act. In the past few years, the bill found great support in Congress and had many co-sponsors. The bill went to committee last year but did not move along to the important steps necessary for it to be discussed on the senate floor in the Senate and in the House. We’ll need your help soon so we can advocate on behalf of recipients and their families. Long Island TRIO supports post transplantation immunosuppressant coverage for all transplant recipients.
Since 1972 Medicare has covered patients on dialysis and those who have received a kidney transplant. But, while there is no Medicare time limit for coverage of a dialysis patient, kidney transplant recipients lose their Medicare coverage 36 months after receiving their transplant.
This bipartisan legislation will allow individuals who are eligible for immunosuppressive drugs under Medicare Part B to continue to receive their vital treatment past the 36-month cutoff. In the past, White House petitions asked for the Obama Administration to support this proposed legislation.-Dr. Ajay K. Singh
Nephrologist-Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School
On Sept. 22, Representatives Michael C. Burgess, MD, R-Texas, and Ron Kind, D-Wisc., introduced the Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act. This legislation would allow individuals who are eligible for immunosuppressive drugs under Medicare Part B to continue to receive their treatment past the current 36-month cutoff.
Currently, Medicare beneficiaries who are 65 or older or who are receiving Social Security Disability Income are covered under Part B for their immunosuppressive drugs without any time limitation. Under the proposed bill, kidney recipients who are younger than 65 and not receiving Social Security Disability Income would also have indefinite coverage if they do not have insurance that includes immunosuppressive drug coverage. The extension applies only to immunosuppressive medications.
Sponsor: Rep. Burgess, Michael C. [R-TX-26] (Introduced 09/22/2016)
Committees: House – Energy and Commerce; Ways and Means
Latest Action: 09/22/2016 Referred to House Ways and Means
Several organizations have expressed support for the bill, including the American Medical Association, National Kidney Foundation, American Society of Transplant Surgeons, American Society of Transplantation, American Society of Nephrology, American Society of Pediatric Nephrology, American Association of Kidney Patients, Association of Organ Procurement Organizations, Dialysis Patient Citizens, and Renal Physicians Association.-Rebecca Zumoff-
“Helping transplant recipients obtain the daily medications necessary to reduce the likelihood of organ rejection is not only what’s best for the patient long-term, it’s what best for Medicare long-term,” said National Kidney Foundation CEO Kevin Longino. “Kidney transplantation significantly reduces Medicare expenditures compared to the costs associated with caring for a patient on dialysis.”