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As you know, individuals who are fortunate enough to receive a kidney transplant must take immunosuppressive medications for the life of the transplanted kidney to reduce the risk of losing the organ. Some patients rely on Medicare Part D to cover the cost of these medications.
Immunosuppressive drugs are one of six “protected classes” of drugs under Medicare Part D. This means that Medicare Part D must cover all approved immunosuppressive drugs, giving transplant recipients access to the full range of available medications. On January 10, 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a change to Medicare Part D that would revise the criteria for these protected classes of drugs. Part D plans would no longer be required to cover all approved immunosuppressive medications.
This rule would put transplant patients’ health at significant risk. Transplant recipients often need adjustments to their immunosuppressive drug regimen, and therefore they require access to the full range of approved medications.
CMS is accepting comments on the proposed rule until March 7. It is critically important that you reach out to your elected officials so that policymakers in Washington, D.C., hear the voices of kidney patients on this issue.
Send a personalized message to your representatives in Congress urging them to communicate to CMS the importance of maintaining immunosuppressive medications as a protected class of drugs under Medicare Part D.
If you take action and are not already a member of the American Kidney Fund's Advocacy Network, you will become a member of the Advocacy Network and begin to receive periodic updates and communications about policy issues affecting kidney patients.
Protect Transplant Patients' Access to Immunosuppressive Drugs Under Medicare Part D
Dear [Decision Maker],
As your constituent, and as someone who has been affected personally by kidney disease, I am writing to make sure you are aware of a recent proposal by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that, if finalized, could jeopardize the health of organ transplant recipients who depend on Medicare Part D for immunosuppressive drug coverage. On January 10, CMS issued a Proposed Rule (79 Fed. Reg. 1918) that would result in transplant recipients having reduced access to immunosuppressive drugs. Currently, immunosuppressive drugs are one of six "protected classes" of drugs under Medicare Part D. Medicare Part D must cover all approved immunosuppressive drugs, giving transplant recipients access to the full range of available medications. The proposed rule would change the criteria for the protected classes of drugs, and as a result, Part D plans would no longer be required to cover all approved immunosuppressive medications. The proposal is a sharp and unwarranted reversal of current policy.Transplant recipients often need adjustments to their immunosuppressive drug regimen, and therefore they require access to the full range of approved medications.Removing immunosuppressive drugs from protected status in Part D would limit access to the most clinically appropriate medications for organ transplant recipients, including those who have received kidney transplants.This measure is not a responsible way for the nation to save on healthcare costs. Part D plans already have effective tools to manage costs in the six protected classes. Nor is this a true savings because patients will lose their transplanted kidneys if they do not receive immunosuppressive drugs. At this point, these patients will have to return to dialysis, which costs many times more than the medications and places patients at greater risk for repeat hospitalization and other increased care costs. I urge you to work to prevent the proposed changes.
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP]
American Kidney Fund, 11921 Rockville Pike, Suite 300, Rockville, MD 20852 HelpLine: (866) 300-2900