During a public meeting Dec. 18, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission presented a draft recommendation that Congress eliminate the update to the dialysis facility payment rate for calendar year 2016.

MedPAC staff member Nancy Ray said that eliminating the update would "lower spending relative to current law." Ray presented data on dialysis facility growth, dialysis treatment growth compared to the growth in beneficiaries, and growth in the volume of dialysis drugs furnished from 2012 through 2013.

Between 2012 and 2013, the total number of fee-for-service beneficiaries and total treatments each grew by 2%. Treatments per beneficiary remained steady in each year at about 117 treatments per beneficiary, Ray said. Between 2012 and 2013, ESA use declined by about 7% per treatment.

Ray said that eliminating the payment update might put more financial pressure on dialysis providers, but said the commission does not "anticipate that it will impact [dialysis providers'] willingness or ability to furnish care. We do not anticipate this recommendation impacting beneficiaries."