Kidney Care Community Celebrates Passage of the House of Representatives’ ESRD Choice Act with Unanimous Vote

September 21, 2016

Bill will enable more choice for patients suffering from kidney disease, kidney failure by allowing much-needed access to Medicare Advantage plans

Washington, DC – Kidney Care Partners – the nation’s leading coalition of patient advocates, kidney disease professionals, dialysis care providers, and manufacturers – today applauded the U.S. House for passing legislation that would offer kidney disease patients enrolled in Medicare increased healthcare coverage options. The ESRD Choice Act of 2016 (H.R. 5659), introduced by Representatives Jason Smith (R-MO), John Lewis (D-GA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), and Tom Marino (R-PA), would allow individuals who develop kidney failure – or end stage renal disease (ESRD) – the freedom to participate in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans just like all other Medicare beneficiaries.

Currently, individuals who are diagnosed with ESRD are prohibited from enrolling in an MA plan and must stick with traditional Medicare, even if an MA plan would be better suited to the patient’s needs.  MA plans are especially beneficial to ESRD patients given that patients with kidney failure often suffer from multiple disease conditions, take multiple medicines, and benefit from more robust health care offerings which are prevalent among MA plans. Since 2000, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has recommended that Congress do away with this provision and extend the same level of Medicare choice to ESRD patients.

KCP has supported this bill since its introduction in July and has previously championed similar legislation (H.R. 1130) spearheaded by Representatives Lewis and Marino, which would have eliminated the prohibitive policies that restrict MA plan access and discriminate against ESRD patients.

“KCP thanks Representatives Smith, Lewis, Bilirakis, Schrader, and Marino for their leadership and bipartisan spirit in ensuring kidney failure patients have equal access to coordinated care services that MA plans can provide,” said Dr. Frank Maddux, chair, Kidney Care Partners.  “Research shows that patients with kidney failure experience fewer complications and spend fewer days in the hospital when their care is coordinated. We believe allowing ESRD patients the choice to access MA plans will help reduce costs to the health care system in the long run.”

“We are proud to have stood behind the ESRD Choice Act from the beginning and we look forward to continuing to work with advocates, physicians, providers and lawmakers in Congress to ensure this pro-patient legislation becomes law,” added Maddux.