More than 500 people in Allegheny County rely on a dialysis machine to clean their blood because their kidneys have failed. The four-hour treatments they receive three times a week help them stay alive. Because of the care they receive, many are able to fully participate in life, enjoying professional careers and family milestones. And now, these lifesaving treatments are being threatened. Cuts to Medicare recently proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would cut reimbursement for dialysis by more than 9 percent.
Kidney-failure patients require dialysis to survive and at least 85 percent of them rely predominantly on Medicare. These proposed cuts will, without a doubt, have an enormous impact on their access to quality care. For some patients, there is the fear that the facility they rely on may have to close. Others may no longer be able to receive free nutritional supplements, essential education or extended hours so they can work during the day and receive treatment at night.
I urge Trib readers to join the National Kidney Foundation in getting the word out to our legislators who can make a difference. Please contact U.S. Sen. Robert P. Casey, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle through the National Kidney Foundation's Take Action Network at http://bit.ly/1aHWTEH. You can help protect thousands of patients who require Medicare funding for lifesaving dialysis care. Lives depend on it.
The writer is regional program manager in the National Kidney Foundation's Alleghenies Regional Office (kidney.org/site/113/index.cfm).
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