ANAHEIM, CA--(Marketwired - July 15, 2013) - The California Dialysis Council, the State's leading organization of patient advocates, dialysis providers, and renal physicians, expressed grave concern with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) recent proposal to slash Medicare funding to dialysis providers beginning next year.
Medicare covers the cost of life-sustaining dialysis treatments to hundreds of thousands of Americans living with renal failure, the final stage of Chronic Kidney Disease. Kidney patients require dialysis treatments, most often received three times a week for three to four hours each round, in order to live. "This current proposal is simply untenable," noted Heather Dauler, President of the California Dialysis Council. "Dialysis providers are already struggling under the weight of past funding reductions and bracing for future expected cuts; what we need is stable, adequate funding to care for our patients."
Dauler refers to past funding reductions tied to the change in the provider payment structure in 2011 and when Congress imposed cuts due to sequestration in 2012. Additionally, Medi-Cal providers who provide dialysis treatments will face a 10% cut this year, retroactive to 2011. Providers are already paying for onerous and expensive federal requirements for which they receive no funding to implement.
"This proposal causes our community to question how we can continue to treat our patients, many of whom are struggling not just with kidney failure, but with conditions such as diabetes or hypertension as well," Dauler said. "Absorbing additional federal and state payment reductions is challenging enough, particularly for small non-profit or rural providers. This proposal may force service reductions or worse -- facility closures."
CMS' actions are a result of a mandate to reduce costs; however, they were never directed to make such deep reductions. Indeed, the proposal was published only weeks after receiving two letters regarding potential cuts from members of Congress urging the agency to take care and "ensure that beneficiaries continue to have access to a quality program." The current proposal certainly falls short of that instruction.