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This Legislation Watch on RenalWEB tracks pending dialysis-related legislation at both federal and state levels. Features include links to bill summaries, sample letters to send legislators, related news articles, and position papers from contributors. You can access information by clicking on the links listed to the left of this paragraph.

The latest federal budget surplus estimates show that there is less money than previously anticipated to fund the government’s programs. As a result, competition for federal healthcare dollars will be fierce. Therefore, participation in lobbying and letter writing to legislators are more important this year than they have ever been.

If you are interested providing a sample letter or supporting information for any legislation, please contact RenalWEB at renalweb@renalweb.com.

 

 


  LATEST NEWS AND ACTION ITEMS
 

The Affordable Care Act and Health Insurance for Latinos - Free, full-text, Online First viewpoint article from the Journal of the American Medical Association. - September 25, 2014

New Affordable Care Act Tools and Payment Models Deliver $372 Million in Savings, Improve Care - Press release from US Department of Health & Human Services. Brief from Healthcare DIVE. - September 16, 2014

KCP and Congressional Kidney Caucus To Hold Lunch Briefing Sept. 18; "Kidney Disease: An Epidemic Sweeping America — HR 4814 a Blueprint to the Future" - Press release from Kidney Care Partners. HR 4814 summary. - September 12, 2014
Editor's note: Shouldn't such a blueprint include ending the enslavement of more than 85% of dialysis patients to a treatment regimens that no nephrologists would choose for themselves? How about restoring more patients to health and improving a dismal employment rate among working-age patients? Or how about simply improving nephrology's goals and objectives in chronic dialysis care? When will legislation finally focus on improving the quality of dialysis patients' lives instead of increasing revenues for corporations and nephrologists?

Chronic dialysis care continues to be medicine practiced primarily for money, not for patients. Why do patient groups tolerate this?

Patient Safety Still Lagging:  Advocates Call for National Patient Safety Monitoring Board - Free, full-text, Online First article from the Journal of the American Medical Association. - August 20, 2014

Aug. 27 Registration Deadline for 2014 Access to Open Payments/Sunshine Act Information - Physicians are encouraged to register in CMS' Enterprise Portal (Enterprise Identification Management system – EIDM) and the Open Payments system in order to view the data reported by industry that will be made public on September 30, 2014. - August 8, 2014

AST Applauds Congressmen Nadler & Burgess for Introducing the Living Organ Donor Protection Act - Press release from the American Society of Transplantation. - July 30, 2014

Wild Day for Obamacare: Appeals Court Rulings Conflict - Articles from HealthDay, Kaiser Health News, Washington Post, and USA Today. - July 22, 2014

American Kidney Fund Supports Bi-partisan Legislation to Improve the Research, Treatment and Care of Chronic Kidney Disease - July 16, 2014

Study Finds No Sign That Health Law Has Created Crush Of Medical Demand - Article from Kaiser Health News. - July 16, 2014

Kidney Care Partners Lauds Bi-Partisan Legislation to Enhance Research, Expand Choice, and Improve Care Coordination for People with Kidney Disease - Press release. Use Thomas.gov to locate bill H.R. 4814. - June 9, 2014

The Kidney Community Rallies On May 1, 2014 - Press release. 15 organizations are urging support for increased kidney research funding and extending immunosuppressive drug coverage for transplant recipients. - April 28, 2014

Obama Gets Bill Giving Docs Temporary Medicare Fix - Posting from The Hill's HealthWatch blog. Articles from Medical Economics.  - March 31, 2014

Permanent 'Doc Fix' May Be On Hold As House Passes Short-Term Patch - Video and article from Kaiser Health News. - March 27, 2014

'Doc Fix' Vote in Senate Planned for Monday - Posting from The Hill's HealthWatch blog.  - March 27, 2014

House Passes Controversial SGR Patch Bill on Voice Vote; Measure Moves to Senate - Posting from The Hill's HealthWatch blog. Article from National Journal. - March 27, 2014

Proposed Legislation for One-Year SGR Patch Would Also Change ESRD Regulations, Delay ICD-10; Swift Passage Likely - 121-page pdf from House.gov. Articles from HFMA, The Hill's HealthWatch blog, Bloomberg, and Government Health IT. - March 26, 2014
Section 212, page 19 (based on numbers on top of pages) would delay the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 for one year.

Section 217, pages 58-62 (based on numbers on top of pages) would modify several Medicare ESRD provisions. Most notably, it would change the date of the inclusion of oral drugs into the bundle from 2016 to 2024.

Quote from AP article:

"It also contains a provision benefiting, among others, Amgen Inc., which produces an oral drug for kidney dialysis patients. It would extend through 2024 a controversial provision to allow payments for Sensipar, which is made by Amgen, to be made on top of other "bundled" payments made to treat Medicare patients with kidney disease. It also eases cuts to dialysis providers who have battled with drug companies over the issue."

Quote from Modern Healthcare article:

"Both leaders have pledged to allow an up or down vote, Nachimson said, with the House going first on Thursday and the Senate Friday. “This thing, I think, came up rather quickly. It caught a few people by surprise, including me.”

Editor's note: It appears that Amgen is once again inserting provisions into last-minute legislation — little discussed or debated — which greatly enrich Amgen. Amgen knows that payment drives practice in ESRD care... patients be damned.

Can Congress Put An End To Annual Medicare Payment Ritual? - Article from NPR via the Kaiser Health News blog. - March 17, 2014

Obama Threatens to Veto GOP 'Doc Fix' Bill - Posting from The Hill's HealthWatch blog. - March 12, 2014

The Sunshine Act: What Does It Mean for Nephrology? - (3-page pdf) Information from the Renal Physicians Association. - February 26, 2014

Rep. John Dingell, Long-Time Champion Of Health Legislation, Will Not Seek Re-Election - Posting from the Kaiser Health News blog. Article from The Hill. - February 24, 2014

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Obama Administration Again Delays Insurance Mandate For Some Smaller Employers - News summary from Kaiser Health News. - February 10, 2014

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Hill Negotiators Agree On Plan To Change How Medicare Pays Docs - News summary from Kaiser Health News. - February 6, 2014

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CBO Report Says Obamacare Will Cost 2.5M Workers - February 4, 2014

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Obamacare Deductibles, Not Premiums, Cause Sticker Shock - February 4, 2014

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Obama Says 9 Million Have Enrolled Under Health Law - Video report from Kaiser Health News. - January 29, 2014

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Bill Seeks Team-Based Approach To Caring For Medicare Patients With Chronic Illness - News summary from Kaiser Health News. - January 15, 2014

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Capitol Hill Could Face Staff Exodus over Healthcare - January 14, 2014

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Realizing the Promise of the Affordable Care Act—January 1, 2014 - Free, full-text, Online First viewpoint article from the Journal of the American Medical Association. - January 2, 2014

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The Health Law Takes Effect: A Consumer’s Guide - Articles from Kaiser Health News and HealthDay. - January 3, 2014

Medicare Doc Fix Advances in Congress - December 13, 2013

House Passes Budget Deal With 3-Month 'Doc Fix' - (Registration required, but free.) News item from Medscape Medical News.  - December 12, 2013

White House Faces Tough Court Fight on Obamacare Mandate - Article from The Hill. - November 25, 2013

Transplantation of HIV + Organs: From Ban to HOPE - Posting from the Renal Fellow Network blog. - November 20, 2013

Congress Opens Door to Allowing HIV Organ Donations - Blog posting from The Hill. - November 11, 2013

Details of Long-Awaited Mental Health Parity Law Regulations Released - Articles from Kaiser Health News and AP. The Final Rule. - November 8, 2013

Sebelius on Health-Reform Law: 'Delay Is Not an Option' - Article from HealthDay. - November 6, 2013

Obama Offers Spirited Health Law Defense, Pledges To 'See It Through' - News summary from Kaiser Health News. - October 31, 2013

White House To Give Consumers Extra Time To Buy Coverage Before Facing Penalty - News summary from Kaiser Health News. Article from HealthDay. - October 24, 2013

Budget Talks Moving Further From GOP's Health Law Concerns - News summary from Kaiser Health News. - October 13, 2013

Health Law Caught In The Middle Of Budget Fight - Interview from Kaiser Health News. Related article from The Hill. - September 19, 2013

Patents, Profits, and the American People — The Bayh–Dole Act of 1980 - Free, full-text, perspective piece from The New England Journal of Medicine. - August 29, 2013

In Congress, a Bid to Undo Dialysis Cuts - Article from The New York Times. - August 28, 2013
Editor's note: It amazes me that so many patients will act to protect a system of care that is paternalistic and dismissive of their needs... with no strings attached!
No dialysis care professional or business executive would accept the care that 90% of their patients receive. Where is the patient leadership? Where are the patient advocates?

Legislation To Mandate Patient Monitoring, Nurse Staffing Proposed - Article from Nurse.com. - August 14, 2013

Medicare SGR Reform Bill Passes Key House Committee - Article from American Medical News. - August 12, 2013

GOP Still Embroiled In Intra-Party Split Over Govt. Shutdown And Efforts To Defund The Health Law - August 5, 2013

House Committee Approves Physician Payment Reform Bill - News item from AHANews.com. - July 31, 2013

Lawmakers Circulate Sign-On Letter Against Dialysis Pay Cuts - See headline in the "Latest News" column from the InsideHealthPolicy.com web site (pay-for-view articles only). The summary states: - July 24, 2013
"Lawmakers again are collecting signatures for a letter urging CMS to reverse a proposed 9.4 percent pay cut to dialysis facilities after earlier letters failed to convince agency officials to go easy on the pay cuts."

House Panel Releases Draft Bill To Repeal Medicare's Payment System For Doctors - News summary from Kaiser Health News. - July 19, 2013

What Now? Q&A about Latest Snag in Health Care Law - Article from AP. Related article (10 ObamaCare Fumbles) from The Hill. - July 7, 2013

AMA To Do ‘Whatever We Can’ To Help Carry Out Health Law - Posting from the KHN blog. - July 3, 2013

Administration Delays Health Law Requirement For Large Employers To Provide Coverage - News summary and article from Kaiser Health News. - July 2, 2013

Doctors Give Sunshine Act a Gloomy Forecast - Article from Hospitals & Health Networks. - June 18, 2013

Senate Passes Bill to Allow Research on Organ Transplants for HIV Patients - Article from The Hill. - June 17, 2013

'Supervision' Legislation Would Protect Rural Access to Outpatient Services - June 12, 2013

The Health Law's Implementation Gains And Pains - News summary from Kaiser Health News. - June 11, 2013

Congress Members Propose Bipartisan Reforms To Stop Medicare, Medicaid Waste - Article from The Hill. - June 11, 2013

House Ways and Means Leadership Urge Medicare Officials to Protect Dialysis Patients, Benefit Stability Under New Payment System - Press release from Kidney Care Partners. - June 3, 2013

The Sunshine Act — Effects on Physicians - Free, full-text perspective piece from The New England Journal of Medicine. - May 30, 2013

The President's Impassioned Health Law Speech: 'We're Going To Keep Fighting' - News summary from Kaiser Health News. - May 10, 2013

Harkin Withdraws Hold On Tavenner; Reid Says Timing For Vote Is Unclear - News item and news summary from Kaiser Health News. - May 7, 2013

Democrat Says Constitution Implies Right to Healthcare, Education - May 6, 2013

Left Boils as Obama Floats Major Change to Medicare Parts A and B - Article from The Hill. - May 4, 2013

Medicare Misperceptions Create Tougher Task For Lawmakers - News summary from Kaiser Health News. - April 4, 2013

Administration Delays Health Law Provision For Small Businesses - April 2, 2013

The Affordable Care Act At Three: Paying For Quality Saves Health Care Dollars - Article by Kathleen Sebelius. - March 20, 2013

Medicare Would Negotiate Drug Prices under Dem Bill - March 12, 2013

Reps. Jim McDermott (WA) and Tom Marino (PA) Lead Home Dialysis Push on Capitol Hill - Letters sent this week to congressional representatives and HHS Secretary Sibelius. - March 11, 2013

Dueling Budgets Will Show Partisan Differences On Medicare And Medicaid - News summary from Kaiser Health News. - March 11, 2013

Rep. Ryan Says Republican Budget Plan Will Assume Repeal Of Health Law - News summary from Kaiser Health News. - March 10, 2013

House Ways And Means Committee Chair Says 'Doc Fix' Is On His To-Do List - February 27, 2013

Health Care Law Allows Consumers to Easily Find and Compare Options Starting in 2014 - Press release from CMS. News summary from Kaiser Health News. - February 20, 2013

GOP Lawmakers Don't Fear Political Impact of Sequester Taking Effect - Article from The Hill. - February 19, 2013

Guest Opinion: Fiscal Cliff Provision Good for Dialysis Patients - Opinion piece from the Billing Gazette. - February 13, 2013

Guest Opinion: Taxpayer Relief from Amgen Hospitality Suite - Letter to the Editor from the Billings Gazette.  - February 13, 2013
"The Senate Finance Committee’s web site applauds Section 632 as “ . . . the result of year-long discussions between the government and the nephrology community”.

The nephrology community?
Lobbyists from drug makers, distributers and dialysis clinics. Add an altruistic, angelic advocacy chorus: “Kidney Care Partners”, “American Nephrology Nurses ”, “Dialysis Patient Citizens“, “National Kidney Foundation”, all singing the same tune . All funded by the drug makers, their distributers, and the dialysis clinics."

Insurance Exchange 'Navigators,' New Payment Models Claim Roles In Health Law Implementation - News summary from Kaiser Health News. - February 6, 2013

House Bill Could Create New 'National Nurse' Public Health Position - Article from The Hill. - February 5, 2013

Affordable Care Act "Sunshine Rule" for Physician Payment Increases Transparency in Healthcare - Press release. - February 4, 2013

Tick, Tock: Administration Misses Some Health Law Deadlines - Article from Kaiser Health News. Related article from The Hill. - February 1, 2013

Lawmakers See No Deal in Sight To Stop Sequester - Article from The Washington Post. - January 30, 2013

Amgen Pushes Back on Charges of Special Deal in 'Fiscal Cliff' Bill - Article from The Hill. Related article from Los Angeles Times. - January 25, 2013

Sen. Harkin Prepares Sweeping Public Health Legislation To Combat Obesity - News summary from Kaiser Health News. - January 24, 2013

Cracks Appearing In GOP Opposition To Health Law - Article from Kaiser Health News and USA Today. - January 19, 2013

GOP House Members Back Plan To Raise Debt Ceiling But Still Expect Entitlement Cuts - News summary from Kaiser Health News. - January 22, 2013

Sen. McConnell to Take Entitlement Talks Lead, Speaker Boehner in Back Seat - Article from The Hill. - January 9, 2013

Clear Battle Lines Emerge On Budget Issues - News summary from Kaiser Health News. - January 7, 2013

Kidney Care Partners' Reaction to 'Fiscal Cliff' Legislation - Press release. - January 3, 2013

Fiscal Deal Political Fallout Will Likely Shape Future Medicare, Entitlement Spending Battles - News summary from Kaiser Health News. - January 3, 2013

Counting Health Care Changes In The 'Fiscal Cliff' Deal - Audio interview with transcript and news summary from Kaiser Health News. - January 2, 2013

'Fiscal Cliff' Legislation Contains Section on End-Stage Renal Disease - (WARNING: 154-page pdf file.) See Section 632 on pages 107-110. - January 1, 2013
The legislation reduces the Medicare bundle payment in 2014 to reflect reduced utilitzation of EPO , calls for a 2-year delay in implementing the inclusion of oral meds into the bundle, requires a new analysis of case mix payment adjustments, and calls for an updated GAO report.

Senate Approves 'Fiscal Cliff' Deal With 'Doc Fix'; GOP House Members Skeptical - News summary from Kaiser Health News. Article from HealthDay. - January 1, 2013


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 STATE LEGISLATION

Gov. Brown Blocks Bill To Limit Use of Biosimilars in California - October 13, 2013

California Assembly Passes Bill To Restrict Biosimilar Drug Use - Article from Bloomberg. - August 27, 2013

Bill To Empower Nurse Practitioners Divides Professional Organizations - Article from American Medical News. - August 26, 2013

Mississippi Legislature Passes ‘Anti-Bloomberg’ Bill - Posting from the Kaiser Health News blog. - March 11, 2013
"A bill on the governor’s desk would bar counties and towns from enacting rules that require calorie counts to be posted, that cap portion sizes, or that keep toys out of kids’ meals. “The Anti-Bloomberg Bill” garnered wide bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature in Mississippi, the state with the highest rate of obesity in the nation."

 

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  FIND YOUR LEGISLATORS

U.S. Representatives: You can locate your U.S. Representative

U.S. Senators: You can locate your U.S. Senators

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  FEDERAL LEGISLATION 112th CONGRESS (2013-2014)

HR 36 - Health Care Safety Net Enhancement Act of 2013
To improve access to emergency medical services, and for other purposes.

S 39 - Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention America Act
To improve the health of Americans and reduce health care costs by reorienting the Nation's health care system toward prevention, wellness, and health promotion.

HR 45 - To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010

HR 79 - Medicaid Payment Fairness to the Territories Act of 2013
To amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to increase the Federal medical assistance percentage for the territories.

HR 81 - To amend subtitle B of title I of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to extend the temporary high-risk insurance pool program to the territories.

HR 132 & S 177 - ObamaCare Repeal Act
To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.

HR 162 - Medicaid Integrity Act of 2013
To amend section 1932 of the Social Security Act to require independent audits and actuarial services under Medicaid managed care programs, and for other purposes.

HR 1102 & S 117 - Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2013
To amend part D of title XVIII of the Social Security Act to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate covered part D drug prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries.

HR 485 - National Nurse Act of 2013
To establish the position of National Nurse for Public Health, to be filled by the same individual serving as the Chief Nurse Officer of the Public Health Service.

HR 698 & S 330 - HIV Organ Policy Equity Act
To amend the Public Health Service Act to establish safeguards and standards of quality for research and transplantation of organs infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

S 1143 - A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act with respect to physician supervision of therapeutic hospital outpatient services.

HR 1325 & S 323 - Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act
To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for extended months of Medicare coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplant patients and other renal dialysis provisions.

HR 1907 - Nurse Staffing Standards for Patient Safety and Quality Care Act of 2013

HR 2415 - Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2013
To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to include information on the coverage of intensive behavioral therapy for obesity in the Medicare and You Handbook and to provide for the coordination of programs to prevent and treat obesity, and for other purposes.

HR 2810 - Medicare Patient Access and Quality Improvement Act 6 of 2013’’
To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to reform the sustainable growth rate and Medicare payment for physicians’ services, and for other purposes.

HR 4302 & S 842 - Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014
To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for an extension of the Medicare-dependent hospital (MDH) program and the increased payments under the Medicare low-volume hospital program.

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HR 4814 - Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act of 2014
To improve the understanding of, and promote access to treatment for, chronic kidney disease, and for other purposes.

HR 5263 - Living Donor Protection Act of 2014
To promote and protect from discrimination living organ donors.

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  LOBBYING AND LETTER WRITING

It is important to convince Senators and Representatives to cosponsor the bill through grassroots letters and lobbying.  A bill that has wide, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate has a better chance of being enacted into law. When the House and Senate leaders choose bills to include in a Medicare package, they will look for bills that have cosponsors from a variety of geographic locations, from both political parties, and support from Members on the Committees that have jurisdiction over the program being effected.

Do not e-mail your Member of Congress, but instead take the time to type or hand write a letter. ("Copy and paste" the sample letters to save time and then edit them appropriately.) It will get a much better response from your Senators and Representatives. Messages coming from the people who elected them really do receive the most attention and are an effective educational tool. 


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 CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES

THOMAS - Legislative Information on the Internet from the Library of Congress

House of Representatives - Homepage

Senate - Homepage

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 OTHER RESOURCES

Advocacy & Government Relations from the National Kidney Foundation web site
Kidney Care Partners web site

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