AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions

MEDICARE COVERAGE FOR KIDNEY TRANSPLANT

WHEREAS, 26 million American adults have chronic kidney disease and millions of others are at increased risk; and

WHEREAS, anyone can get chronic kidney disease at any age; and

WHEREAS, people who have diabetes; high-blood pressure; a family history of chronic kidney disease; are older; or belong to a population group that has a high rate of diabetes or high-blood pressure, such as African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders or American Indians, are at an increased risk for kidney disease; and

WHEREAS, individuals can get Medicare no matter what their age if their kidneys no longer work (referred to as ESRD), and they need regular dialysis or a kidney transplant and have met certain conditions; and

WHEREAS, Medicare spends an average of $71,000 a year for a patient on dialysis; and
WHEREAS, the government health plan spends an average of $106,000 on a transplant, plus $17,000 a year for drugs to prevent organ rejection; and

WHEREAS, only 80 percent of the cost for drugs to prevent organ rejection are covered for a period of three years after the transplant by Medicare, although the plan will cover dialysis for a person's lifetime; and

WHEREAS, patients who can't afford to pay drug costs stay on dialysis; and;
WHEREAS, private insurers sometimes reject transplant patients, knowing Medicare will absorb dialysis costs; and

WHEREAS, a transplant patient typically lives longer and has a better quality of life than the dialysis patient; it's the preferred form of treatment and less expensive, but harder to get done; and

WHEREAS, there is an urgent need to increase the number of organs available for transplantation in the United States; supply has not kept pace with demand. In the past 10 years the gap between the number of people on the waiting list and number of kidney transplants each year has more than doubled and is now more than 50,000. Every two hours someone on the waiting list for a transplant dies; and

WHEREAS, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) has developed a comprehensive action plan to increase the number of transplants for kidney patients; and

WHEREAS, by collaborating with many organizations, government agencies and individuals, the NKF's END THE WAIT! recommendations will eliminate barriers, institute best practices across the nation, improve the transplant system, cover the cost of donating an organ, reduce regional and ethnic disparities and increase living and deceased donation throughout the United States:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers, its members and affiliates support legislation such as H.R. 1458 and S. 565, which both extend Medicare coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for the life of the kidney transplant through Medicare, not just for 36 months post transplant, providing that any such legislation will place annual limits on the patient out-of-pocket costs for these immunosuppressive drugs; and

RESOLVED, that support be extended to work with Congress and federal agencies, as well as with the state governments, to further legislation and regulation to improve the care and quality of life with kidney disease patients.


(2011)