Having a Voice in Healthcare

By Kathe LeBeau

Having a Voice in Healthcare

Today, whenever you read a newspaper, watch the news or listen to talk radio you are sure to see or hear a story on healthcare reform. With close to 50 million Americans living without health insurance, healthcare reform was a platform of President Obama’s campaign and it is evident that change is in the air.

It can be difficult to understand all the complexities involved in these discussions in the houses of Congress and how changes will impact people who have kidney disease. WeKAN (a patient advocacy program of RSN) works hard to stay on top of the issues that will affect kidney patients. Currently these are our top legislative advocacy issues:

  • Medigap coverage access should be universally available; currently 21 states do not require access to this important and necessary supplemental coverage
  • Lifetime coverage for immunosuppressive medications for kidney transplant recipients; currently this is capped at 36 months following transplant
  • Affordable healthcare options and the prohibition of any “pre-existing conditions” as a reason to deny coverage; currently, many people cannot afford or access health insurance or are discriminated against by insurance companies and denied any coverage at all.

Last year, Congress passed PL 110-275 the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA). MIPPA is changing the reimbursement structure of dialysis to bundle the costs of medications and labs into one composite dialysis payment rate. Following the passage of such a law, Congress leaves it up to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to create the specific regulations governing the implementation of that law, and this is called the Proposed Rule. We are at this moment are waiting for CMS to publish the proposed rule regarding the dialysis reimbursement portions of the MIPPA law and the public and renal community will then have 60 days to comment. RSN will be working diligently to help ensure that we let CMS know what people on dialysis need to survive and thrive.

You can comment individually on these proposed regulations as well. As soon as they are published in the Federal Register, we will make the provisions available on our website. We will also have links to the appropriate sites so you can file your response with CMS. Being part of the law implementation process is the best way for people with kidney disease to benefit from the new law. To visit our website and find the links to comment on the proposed rule go to www.RSNhope.org scroll over programs and choose weKAN.

Having a Voice in HealthcareAbout the Author

Diagnosed with kidney disease in 2004, Kathe LeBeau began home hemodialysis in April of 2007, and is presently on the kidney transplant waiting list.  She is the Project Manager for RSN’s weKAN group, and is also a PEPP speaker and HOPEline operator.  Kathe lives in the Capital region of New York State with her husband of 11 years, Loren Fadding.

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