Among the scores of programs facing federal budget cuts under sequestration, Medicare and Medicaid will see a funding loss of more than 9% for the care of dialysis patients.
Jack Reynolds, vice president of the non-profit group Dialysis Patient Citizens, says more than 1,500 Nebraskans need dialysis three times a week to stay alive.
“We feel like a 9.4% cut in the dialysis payment rate is just outrageous,” Reynolds says. “Many clinics, particularly in rural areas, may have to close their doors.”
One in seven Americans has kidney disease. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two top causes of kidney failure, and with diabetes at “epidemic” proportions in the U-S, Reynolds says this course of action by Congress is foolhardy.
“Look, this is not the time to cut access to dialysis because there’s only going to be an increase in the kidney (disease) population in future years,” Reynolds says. “This is the wrong way to go.”
Reynolds is 61 and has been on dialysis for 39 years — since his kidneys failed when he was 22.
The cuts in Medicare and Medicaid payments may force dialysis clinics to cut back hours, cut staff, or in a worst case, close, which Reynolds says would cause a ripple effect of problems for dialysis patients.
“To get access to dialysis, which they have to have three times a week to stay alive, it’s not an optional treatment, patients might have to drive another 30 or 40 miles to get to the next clinic,” Reynolds says. “We all know, with the price of gas, that becomes a hardship for people.”
Some 400,000 Americans get dialysis every week and 80% of them rely on Medicare or Medicaid for the coverage. Reynolds is urging Nebraskans to contact their members of Congress and ask them to reverse this planned funding cut.
Learn more at: www.dialysispatients.org