Kidney Community Applauds Senate Introduction of Bipartisan Legislation to Improve and Expand Access to Kidney Care

August 3, 2017

S. 1729 would streamline and speed accreditation process for dialysis facilities

WASHINGTON, DC — Kidney Care Partners (KCP) – the nation’s leading coalition of patient advocates, kidney disease professionals, dialysis care providers, researchers and manufacturers – today applauded U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS), Mark Warner (D-VA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Todd Young (R-IN) for introducing S. 1729, legislation that would ease barriers to care for dialysis patients.

Currently, 31 million Americans either have some form of kidney disease or are at risk of developing kidney failure in the future. And each year, more than 118,000 are diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and will eventually require a kidney transplant or dialysis services.

S. 1729, the companion bill to H.R. 3166, which was originally introduced by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and John Lewis (D-GA) in the House, would allow independent certification of new dialysis centers, decreasing the lag time in certifying a new facility while still ensuring high quality care. These same provisions were also included in H.R. 3178, the Medicare Part B Improvement Act, which was introduced by Reps. Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Richard Neal (D-MA) and passed the House unanimously on July 13.

Currently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provides funding to state agencies to survey, certify and inspect Medicare-funded providers, including dialysis centers. However, dialysis providers are the only ones of these facilities that are not able to be surveyed and accredited by independent organizations.

“This has resulted in long delays for the approval of new dialysis facilities as well as extremely high startup costs that discourage new centers from being opened, especially in rural communities where there may be fewer patients making it more difficult to recoup those initial costs,” explained Hrant Jamgochian, CEO of Dialysis Patient Citizens (a KCP member) in a letter last month to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX).

S. 1729 would amend Section 1865(a) of the Social Security Act (SSA) to allow independent accreditation for dialysis facilities and to ensure that patients have access to dialysis treatments at newly opened facilities in a timely manner.

The bill and this provision has the support of the entire kidney community which as DPC’s Jamgochian detailed in his letter to the Ways and Means, it “would streamline this process and prevent unnecessary delays in access to care.”

Dr. Frank Maddux, chair of Kidney Care Partners, said the kidney community is hopeful that the unanimous passage of H.R. 3178 in the House bodes well for similar results for S. 1729 in the Senate and is looking forward to seeing these new provisions implemented to benefit dialysis patients across the country.

“We commend Senators Roberts, Warner, Crapo, Cardin, Young and the entire House of Representatives for their leadership on this issue as well as for their efforts to remove barriers to care and ensure increased alternatives for dialysis patients,” Dr. Maddux said. “We urge all members of the U.S. Senate to join their colleagues in making this vulnerable population a priority and supporting S. 1729.”