If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to read the bad news first. (I’ve never understood why anyone would want to hear good news first, feel terrific, only to then be brought back down and left with sad or depressing news.)
So, first the bad news:
The Living Donor Protection Act, which was first introduced in 2014, still hasn’t crossed the finish line on its way to becoming law. It would provide basic protections against discrimination by insurance companies, as well as job protections for taking time off work to donate. Remember the latest big push during the meetings with lawmakers we had in the fall? We were SO close to finally getting this thing passed. I’m not sure if it’s still technically possible, but it’s as good as impossible. That means we start all over in the next session of Congress. We”ll also need a new House sponsor because Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler wasn’t reelected.
Now the good news!
Even though it didn’t make it into law, the LDPA had the most cosponsors ever: 158 in the House and 43 in the Senate. That has to translate into increased bipartisan support in the next Congress. In other words, we shouldn’t need to start from scratch. They all know about the act now, and, given that nearly 100,000 people in this country are waiting for a lifesaving kidney, most lawmakers understand its importance.
$$$ for Kidney Disease Awareness and More: Congress just released its final appropriations bill that includes substantial increases in funding for federal programs that promote kidney disease awareness, education, and research. Sure, we need more living donors and must remove obstacles to donation, and yes we need an implantable artificial kidney, but ultimately the best way to meet the critical need for kidneys and save lives by reducing kidney failure, is to PREVENT chronic kidney disease in the first place. So, education and research are absolutely essential.
The Immuno Drug Bill (aka Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act), which finally passed at the end of 2020, goes into effect very soon: January 1, 2023. Believe it or not, this one had been kicking around way longer than the LDPA: 20 years! The kidney community has been fighting to change the law that arbitrarily cuts off Medicare coverage for transplant recipients who don’t otherwise qualify for it–for example, those under 65– after 36 months post transplant. The Immuno bill now ensures that people with no other health plan to pay for their critical antirejection meds will be able to have these drugs covered for the life of the transplant.
Eligible individuals can start applying for the Medicare immuno drug coverage right now. If you have questions, contact the toll-free help line at 855.NKF.CARES (855.653.2273) or firstname.lastname@example.org .
For related posts, resources, and information on my book, The Insider’s Guide to Living Kidney Donation,
please be sure to explore the rest of my website.