Good News on Immuno Drug Bill

So glad to have good news to report on the Immuno Drug coverage bill that would extend Medicare coverage of anti-rejection meds for people not otherwise eligible for Medicare. The bill passed the House last week with strong bipartisan support (that alone is worth cheering) as part of the BENES Act (Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification Act of 2020). It now awaits action in the Senate.

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Currently, Medicare drug coverage for people who qualify only through the ESRD–kidney failure–category ends, bizarrely, at 36 months. No, that doesn’t correspond to any medical milestone. Transplant recipients require special meds for the life of the kidney, and this bill applies only to people with no other coverage. It’s been in the works for a few years now even though it would seem to be a no-brainer.

By ensuring that all patients can afford their critical (and expensive) anti-rejection meds, the bill saves both lives and money by safeguarding the health of the transplanted kidney. Incidentally, when we lobbied members of Congress about this in September, the estimated savings (through reducing the need for more costly dialysis) was thought to be $73 million over 10 years. The official Congressional Budget Office projection is now $400 million savings to Medicare over 10 years!

So, please tell your senators! Anyone who had been unswayed by the compelling moral argument and previously thought respectable savings should now be persuaded by the revised, equally compelling, economic argument. Why risk jeopardizing anyone’s precious gift?

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