Bi-partisan members of the Senate Finance Committee and the Chairman of the Budget Committee urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner in a May 17 letter to “exercise caution” in implementing provisions of a new law that affects provision of dialysis care.  

As part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act, or the "fiscal cliff" bill, enacted earlier this year, Congress required CMS to adjust Medicare’s  bundled payment system for dialysis services and medications.  In their letter to CMS, the 17 Senators emphasized statutory obligations that require the agency to ensure that Medicare funding for life-sustaining dialysis “should not reduce payments to a level less than the cost of providing care.”

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The joint patient letter to Tavenner, signed by the American Kidney Fund, Dialysis Patient Citizens, National Kidney Foundation and the Renal Support Network, outlined their collective concerns about the impact payment changes could have on Medicare beneficiaries:

"Congress and the agency have worked collaboratively for many years to create a viable ESRD [end-stage renal disease] payment system to improve quality, to decrease mortality, and to align payment with the appropriate incentives,” the 17 Senators said.  “We must now work together to assure that… adjustments are made in a manner that does not gut this crucial service for vulnerable beneficiaries.”
 “The kidney care community is both thankful and encouraged by the strong bi-partisan Senate letter," said Kidney Care Partners Chairman Ron Kuerbitz. "Protecting the nation’s dialysis patients and maintaining the stability of the current payment system is crucial, and we commend all 17 Senators for their leadership and support on this very important issue.”