A bill that has passed the House Ways and Means Committee would give dialysis clinics the option to seek certification from an approved third party.

CMS has struggled to keep up with requests for initial certifications and approving expansions on dialysis units and other health care facilities for years.

“This bill enables dialysis facilities to utilize independent third party accreditors like other types of Medicare facilities are currently able to do,” said Kidney Care Partners Chair Frank Maddux, MD. “Instead of new facilities sitting idle for many months, the bill will enable patients to have quicker access to more convenient sites of care which will improve patient outcomes.” 

HR 3178, the Medicare Part B Improvement Act, would also allow dialysis facilities and the home to be approved telemedicine originating sites for home dialysis.

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Currently, home dialysis patients can use telehealth to receive a monthly clinical assessment only if it occurs in an authorized originating site (including a physician office and hospital-based dialysis facility) and the site is located in a Rural Health Professional Shortage Area or area county outside a Metropolitan Statistical Area.

This bill would expand the number of originating sites for monthly clinical assessments to include freestanding dialysis facilities and the patient’s home, and lift the geographic restrictions. Home dialysis patients would need to have a face-to-face visit with their nephrologist each month for the first three months of treatment, and at least once every three months after that.

The Comptroller General would also be required to conduct a study and issue a report, to be completed in two years, on the benefits and drawbacks of including the home as the telehealth originating site for home dialysis patients.