Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Kidney exchange evolving: passing the baton

Ruthanne Hanto, who has been ably running the New England Program for Kidney Exchange (NEPKE) since its founding, is joining the UNOS Kidney Paired Donation pilot program as Program Manager effective July 1.

(See previous posts here and here on the UNOS KPD program. NEPKE was one of the four kidney exchange programs that were selected to participate.  The others are The Alliance for Paired Donation, Johns Hopkins and UCLA/UPMC.   Activity in the UNOS KPD pilot has been slow initially.)

Ruthanne will continue to work part-time as the Manager of NEPKE until December 31. This will allow time for NEPKE centers to transition directly into the UNOS national system prior to NEPKE ceasing operations on December 31, 2011.

The proximate cause of NEPKE's end is that during a recent audit of NEOB’s cost report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009, CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, the federal payer for  kidney transplant related costs) retroactively denied coverage for the costs associated with NEPKE. This is a really shortsighted decision, since every kidney exchange saves CMS lots of money in costs for dialysis, etc., not to mention that it is the treatment of choice. (It isn't often in medicine that the best treatment is also the cheapest.)

However, Ruthanne's expertise will give the UNOS program its best chance to succeed, which would be a very good thing indeed.

Good luck and Godspeed, Ruthanne...

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