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Advocate, Inform, Motivate

June 2011

 

Thank you for your commitment to the American Kidney Fund’s Advocacy Network. As an AKF Advocate, you have the opportunity to join with others to make a difference in the lives of all kidney patients.

The American Kidney Fund advocates for policies to improve the health of millions of Americans and their families who are living with, or at risk of developing kidney disease. Keeping policymakers and regulators informed is an important aspect of the fight against kidney disease.

With the help of our dedicated advocates, the American Kidney Fund will have a strong voice on Capitol Hill and in Washington, D.C. 

From all of us at AKF, thank you for your time and dedication!

Sincerely,

Nikia Okoye
Director of Government Relations

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Pills

CMS Finalizes Decision on Anemia Drug Use
by Kidney Patients

On June 20, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized its decision not to alter its reimbursement policy for erythropoietin-stimulating agent (ESA) use by kidney patients to treat anemia. This decision confirms what CMS announced in March—that it lacked sufficient information to issue a national coverage determination on ESA use for kidney patients. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved revisions to the labeling on ESA medications. The revised labeling indicates that doses should be administered according to the patient’s individual needs instead of to achieve a target hemoglobin range. 

This continues to be a win for kidney patients, who will continue to have access to these medications, which in most instances allow them to have a better quality of life. AKF testified before CMS and the FDA on this issue, and will continue to monitor policies that could impact ESA use by kidney patients in the future.

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Nationals Park 061111STC

AKF Hosts Kidney Action Day in Washington

Rep Norton 061111STCOn June 11, the American Kidney Fund (AKF) hosted its Kidney Action Day and Steps that Count walkathon at Nationals Park in Washington to raise awareness of kidney disease in the District of Columbia and the greater metropolitan area. The event featured the Steps that Count fundraising walk, free health screenings, healthy cooking and fitness demonstrations, and fun family activities. 

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) attended the event and presented remarks she entered into the Congressional Record urging residents to get screened for kidney disease. 

STCDC061111Mayor Vincent Gray proclaimed June 11, 2011 as Kidney Awareness Day in the District of Columbia, and a representative from the Bureau of Nutrition and Physical Fitness delivered opening remarks and presented the Proclamation on his behalf.

For more information on dates and locations for Kidney Action Day and Steps that Count events in San Antonio, Houston and Atlanta, please visit www.stepsthatcount.org.

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Old Couple at Doctor's Office

CMS to Make Medicare Data Publicly Available

Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it would, for the first time, make Medicare claims data available to analysts for use in evaluating the performance of hospitals and physicians. Previously, analysts had to base their evaluations solely on information from private insurers. CMS has indicated it hopes the availability of this data will lead to higher quality and more cost-effective care. 

As a result of this decision, patients will benefit from more accurate information when comparing the cost and quality of care provided by doctors and hospitals. CMS’ Proposed Rule was published June 8; a 60-day public comment period ends on August 8.

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CMS Proposed Rule

AKF Submits Comments on Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Proposed Rule

On June 3, the American Kidney Fund submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on its Proposed Rule for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). Read AKF’s comment letter.

ACOs were created as part of last year’s healthcare reform legislation to generate savings in Medicare. Under ACOs, doctors and hospitals will be given financial incentives to join together to better coordinate care for Medicare beneficiaries. ACOs that generate savings will be able to keep a portion of the money they save. 

CMS has received considerable criticism from the medical community since it released its Proposed Rule. AKF and the nephrology community are particularly concerned that only primary care physicians will be able to participate in ACOs. AKF recommends that CMS implement a pilot program to allow dialysis facilities and nephrologists to establish integrated care models that improve quality and increase efficiencies for patient populations with kidney failure. 

The public comment period for the Proposed Rule ended on June 6. AKF will continue to monitor this issue; CMS will offer further guidance in the coming months. The Affordable Care Act mandated that the first ACOs be operational by January 1, 2012.

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 Reps. Marino and Fleming - Congressional Kidney Caucus

AKF President and CEO Meets with New Kidney Caucus Leadership

In May, American Kidney Fund President and CEO LaVarne Burton met with the incoming leaders of the Congressional Kidney Caucus—Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania and Rep. John Fleming, M.D., of Louisiana—to discuss how AKF can work with the Caucus to raise awareness of kidney disease and improve prevention education. 

Congressman Marino, incoming Co-Chair of the Caucus, is a two-time kidney cancer survivor and expressed interest in working with AKF on prevention education. Dr. Fleming, incoming Vice-Chair of the Caucus, is a family physician who has personally witnessed the growing prevalence of kidney disease and its leading causes among patients over the past few decades.

The American Kidney Fund looks forward to working with Reps. Marino and Fleming, and engaging the Kidney Caucus to promote kidney disease awareness among the Capitol Hill community. Click here for more information on the Congressional Kidney Caucus.

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World Kidney Day on Capitol Hill

We Want Your Feedback

Do you want to know more about a particular federal regulation or piece of legislation? Do you have a story you would like to share about your fight with kidney disease? Let us know what information is helpful to you as a kidney patient, caregiver or volunteer.

Feel free to contact Michael Platt, Government Relations Assistant, at mplatt@kidneyfund.org or call the Government Relations team toll free at (800) 638-8299, and don’t forget to encourage your family and friends to sign up as AKF Advocates!


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