NKF Applauds Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage Legislation Passed in the U.S. Senate

Quotes for attribution to National Kidney Foundation - Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020

“Last night the U.S. Senate passed landmark immunosuppressive drug legislation, which has the potential to save the lives of kidney transplant patients throughout our nation.

“The National Kidney Foundation applauds Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) for their leadership in passing legislation to extend Medicare coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplant patients. The legislation represents a significant change which will greatly help save patients’ lives and taxpayers money.

“The National Kidney Foundation sincerely thanks our grassroots advocates who have been fighting alongside us in support of this critical legislation for years. 

“Kidney transplant patients must take immunosuppressive drugs for the life of their transplant to help prevent organ rejection. Skipping even one dose will increase the chance of organ failure. But when the current 36-month Medicare coverage for this life-saving medication ends, patients are forced to make a choice between paying for their transplant medications or paying the rent, it’s a choice nobody should have to make." 

"This landmark legislation ensures that transplant patients on Medicare can afford the lifesaving medication they need following a transplant indefinitely, as opposed to the three-year cap that was previously in place leaving patients to pay for the gap in coverage on their own."

“We are grateful to Congressmen Ron Kind (D-WI) and Michael Burgess (R-TX) who introduced similar legislation in the House earlier this year, and for their leadership in ensuring bi-partisan support for this critically important legislation.  

“The National Kidney Foundation sincerely thanks the Administration for their strong backing of this legislation that will greatly help our nation’s kidney transplant recipients.” 

For a patient’s perspective on how a lack of Medicare coverage for immunosuppressive drugs affects a family see Bobbie’s story


About Kidney Disease

In the United States, 37 million adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease (CKD)—and approximately 90 percent don’t know they have it.  1 in 3 adults in the U.S. is at risk for chronic kidney disease.  Risk factors for kidney disease include: diabeteshigh blood pressureheart diseaseobesity, and family history. People who are Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander are at increased risk for developing the disease. Black or African American people are almost 4 times more likely than Whites to have kidney failure. Hispanic or Latino people are 1.3 times more likely than non-Hispanics or Latinos to have kidney failure.

Approximately 750,000 Americans have irreversible kidney failure and need dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive. More than 500,000 of these patients receive dialysis at least three times per week to replace kidney function. Nearly 100,000 Americans are on the waitlist for a kidney transplant right now.  Depending on where a patient lives, the average wait time for a kidney transplant can be upwards of three to seven years. Living organ donation not only saves lives, it saves moneyEach year, Medicare spends approximately $89,000 per dialysis patient and less than half, $35,000, for a transplant patient.

About National Kidney Foundation Living Organ Donation Resources:

THE BIG ASK: THE BIG GIVE platform, which provides nationwide outreach, is designed to increase kidney transplantation through training and tools that help patients and families find a living donor. It includes direct patient and caregiver support through our toll-free help line 855-NKF-CARES, peer mentoring from a fellow kidney patient or a living donor, online communities, an advocacy campaign to remove barriers to donation, and a multi-media public awareness campaign. All resources are free and designed to teach kidney patients, or their advocates, how to make a “big ask” to their friends, loved ones, or community to consider making a “big give,” a living organ donation. www.kidney.org/livingdonation.

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the largest, most comprehensive and longstanding organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease. For more information about NKF visit www.kidney.org