The 21st Century Cures Act was approved by the Senate Dec. 7 by a vote of 94-5. The legislation, which addresses funding for the National Institutes of Health, and makes regulatory changes to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, also includes a provision that would allow end-stage renal disease patients to choose Medicare Advantage plans. The bill passed through the House of Representatives on Nov. 30 by a 392-26 margin.

“In addition to the highly coordinated care available through MA plans, enrollees experience lower out-of-pocket health care costs,” wrote Kidney Care Partners chair Franklin W. Maddux, MD, in a letter to representatives. “Because many Medicare ESRD beneficiaries are under the age of 65, in most states these beneficiaries do not have the option of purchasing a Medigap policy to help defray co-payment obligations and cost sharing, which can be significant. Many MA plans offer reduced cost sharing, which would be an invaluable benefit for ESRD beneficiaries.”