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Kidney Care Advocates Fight Medicare Cuts

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, June 5, 2013

A coalition of kidney care experts and advocates fears that Medicare program cuts for end-stage renal disease will be so severe that the cost of delivering dialysis will exceed reimbursement for the service.

A coalition of kidney care advocates is the latest disease interest group to push back against financial cuts required by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.

In April, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and other cancer care groups projected that ATRA requirements would reduce access to cancer treatment and boost the cost of cancer drugs. The Washington Post reported that cancer clinics had started turning away " thousands of Medicare patients" because of the budget cuts tied to the sequester.

Within weeks legislation was introduced to reduce the cuts to cancer clinics.

Kidney Care Partners, a coalition of patient advocates, researchers, and dialysis professionals, is travelling a similar path. It has garnered Congressional support in its effort to convince the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to limit the end-stage renal disease program cuts expected to take place as a result of ATRA.

Better known as the fiscal cliff law, ATRA requires CMS to make payment adjustments to the ESRD bundled payment system in an effort to save $4.9 billion over 10 years. The savings will come from what is known as "rebasing." CMS will rebase the ESRD prospective payment system using drug utlilization data from 2011. The current base year is 2007.

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