March 11, 2009

World Kidney Day is March 12

Got an email from the National Kidney Foundation today that I am posting here for all to see.

Support the World Kidney Day's Message to Congress
Join our Virtual Fly-In to Support Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage

Take Action!

On March 12, over 100 kidney advocates will be meeting with congressional offices on World Kidney Day, asking for support of legislation to extend Medicare coverage for life-saving immunosuppressive drugs for the life of the kidney transplant. If passed, patients could continue to receive these drugs under Medicare Part B. This is a big step forward to preserve the life of kidney transplants.

Organ transplant recipients must take immunosuppressive drugs for the life of the transplant to help prevent the body from rejecting the organ. Currently, Medicare pays for most kidney transplants but covers drugs for only 36 months post-transplant as part of the Medicare ESRD benefit. After that, kidney recipients must pay for immunosuppressive drugs through private insurance, public or pharmaceutical programs or pay out-of-pocket (Medicare covers drugs without a time limit if the patient qualifies because of age or disability status).

Immunosuppressive drugs are expensive, but the alternative is even more costly. Medicare spends $17,000 per patient to maintain a transplant, but if the kidney transplant fails, the person returns to dialysis at a cost of over $71,000 per year to Medicare. And quality of life often suffers too.

Similar legislation will be introduced in the House of Representatives on March 12. Click here for more information about the legislation. Click here to view the NKF's Immunosuppressive Drug Fact Sheet.

Please take a moment to write your Senators today and ask them to co-sponsor S. 565. Share your story, or the story of a loved one, about the experience with immunosuppressive drug coverage.

Links:
Nephcure - More focused on FSGS, my kind of kidney diseas
National Kidney Foundation

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