Kidney Community Works Together on Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage

New York, NY
August 15, 2005

In an effort to inform patients with chronic kidney disease about the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, the Kidney Medicare Drugs Awareness and Education Initiative was launched in Washington, D.C. on July 27, 2005. More than 35 kidney organizations and companies, led by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), have joined forces to help people with kidney disease, and the health care professionals who care for them, understand the new benefit and make the choices that are right for them.

“The average kidney patient takes 15 different prescription medicines. From the earliest onset of kidney problems through end stage kidney failure, the role of medicines in maintaining health is critically important,” said John Davis, chief executive officer of the NKF.

“Prescription medications can help patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) prevent or delay its progression and limit the complications of CKD. Kidney failure requires dialysis or a transplant and both require a substantial increase in a patient’s daily drug regimen.”

The new Medicare drug benefit, to take effect in January of 2006, will help people with kidney disease and Medicare pay for prescribed drugs if they join a Medicare Part D plan. How much help patients receive will depend on their income and assets, availability of other medication assistance where they live or work, the Medicare prescription drug plans that are available in their area and whether the drugs they need are covered by the plan they choose.

The group that assembled in Washington reviewed a campaign to provide information about Part D for people with kidney disease and kidney failure. Plans include development of brochures and fact sheets, as well as webcasts and audioconferences for social workers, nurses, and dietitians who care for kidney patients. All materials will be shared with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in an effort to assure accuracy and usefulness for people with kidney disease. Any organization in the kidney community will be able to utilize the materials, programs, and services that will be developed as part of this initiative.

The centerpiece of this initiative will be a new website for patients and professionals, www.kidneydrugcoverage.org The web site will provide useful, timely, and accurate information about Medicare prescription drug coverage for doctors and other healthcare professionals, as well as government agency personnel who will be advising people with kidney disease about their choices.

John Davis, CEO of NKF, said: “This new benefit is so important for patients, and so challenging for them to understand and utilize, that we all need to work together to help them. This is something that the kidney community can and must do together to achieve the most for our patients,” he said. “NKF pledges to work with all other organizations to remove barriers and speak directly to all patients with one voice.”

“The invitation to participate in this effort is extended to all organizations involved in helping kidney patients with kidney disease. The collaboration at the initial meeting that was organized late last month by the National Kidney Foundation illustrates that the kidney community is united in helping people with kidney disease cope with the challenge of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit,” continued Davis.

To learn more about the information campaign for the Kidney Medicare Drugs Awareness and Education Initiative contact Dolph Chianchiano at (800)622-9010.