NKF Applauds New Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage Legislation to Help Save Transplant Patients from Organ Rejection

Quotes for attribution to National Kidney Foundation
Washington, DC - January 6, 2020 - “New legislation recently introduced to extend Medicare coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplant patients will not only save lives but save taxpayers money. When patients cannot afford their medication, they often skip doses or are forced to make difficult choices between paying for basic necessities and paying for medicine they need to prevent organ failure.”
“The legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX) will extend immunosuppressive coverage past the 36-month cut-off currently in place to cover the medications for the life of the transplant.”
“When a patient receives a kidney transplant, the body knows that the new kidney is foreign and will attack the new kidney and try to damage or destroy it. Taking life-saving immunosuppressive drugs suppresses the body's ability to do this and helps prevent organ rejection. Skipping even one dose may increase the chance of organ failure.”
“The National Kidney Foundation applauds the new H.R. 5534 and sincerely thanks Congressmen Kind and Burgess for standing up for kidney transplant patients and we look forward to working with them to advance this life-saving legislation”.
“Two recently released reports demonstrate that extending immunosuppressive drug coverage saves significant federal funds over ten years. On May 10th, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation report shows extending the coverage would result in an accumulated savings of approximately $73 million over ten years.  A May 23rd report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Office of the Actuary, shows an even greater savings, $300 million over ten years.” 
See Bobbie’s story to learn how a lack of Medicare coverage for immunosuppressive drugs affects her family.
About Kidney Disease
In the United States, 37 million adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease (CKD) – and most aren’t aware of it.  1 in 3 American adults is at risk for CKD.  Risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a family history of kidney failure, and being age 60 or older. People of African American, Hispanic, Native-American, Asian or Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. African Americans are about 3 times more likely than Whites to develop end-stage kidney disease (ESKD or kidney failure). Compared to non-Hispanics, Hispanics are almost 1.3 times more likely to receive a diagnosis of kidney failure.
More than 726,000 Americans have irreversible kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease (ESRD), 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 money. Each 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 (855.653.2273), 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.
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.
####January 6, 2020