Saturday, March 2, 2013

Federal budgets and immunosuppressive drugs for transplant patients

One of the funny things about Medicare is that it pays for dialysis, and for kidney transplants so that patients won't need dialysis, but it only pays for three years of immunosuppressive drugs post-transplant. That's foolish on a number of dimensions.

Here's a proposal for new legislation to fix that:


"U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) introduced bipartisan legislation to improve the quality of life for people with kidney disease. The Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act would assist thousands of Americans under the age of 65 who are being cut off from Medicare after 36 months by extending coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for kidney
transplant recipients"
"The effects of the disparity in coverage are evidenced in the hypothetical case of a young woman. For example, a 26 year old woman living with ESRD would have lifelong dialysis covered by Medicare at $77,500/year. Medicare would cover the cost of a transplant at $110,000/transplant. The immunosuppressive drugs she would need to ensure the organ is not rejected by her body are only covered for 36 months and the drugs are far less costly than dialysis at $10,000 to $20,000/year. Without immunosuppressive drugs to keep kidney transplants from being rejected, many patients find themselves right back where they started: in need of a kidney. This circular cycle of care is costing taxpayers a lot of money and putting thousands of lives at risk."

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