McEachin introduces bill to protect kidney transplant recipients
Congressman A. Donald McEachin, D-Va., recently introduced H.R. 5534, the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2019.
This bipartisan legislation, introduced with with Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wisc.), Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Jason Smith (R-Mo.) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), would extend Medicare coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplant patients ensuring patients can afford these necessary medications.
“Patients and their families should never have to sacrifice the gift of a new kidney because they cannot afford the medications needed to ensure their body does not reject that kidney,” said Congressman Donald McEachin.
“When kidney failure patients decline much-needed transplants because of the high costs of necessary maintenance medications, these patients are forced to depend on dialysis—reducing their quality of life while increasing the overall cost to the federal government. Extending this coverage means more people will be able to receive transplants and live better, healthier lives at a lower cost to Medicare. This legislation is a win-win and I look forward to it finally becoming law.”
Kidney transplant patients must remain on immunosuppressive medications for the rest of their lives. Currently, Medicare only covers this medically-necessary drug treatment for 36 months after a patient receives a kidney transplant. Due to this short window of coverage, many patients are unable to afford their medications, leading to an increase in organ rejection or potentially causing the patient to forgo the transplant altogether. H.R. 5534, the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2019, would permanently remove the 36-month Medicare limit for kidney transplant recipient. A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services estimates that this policy will result in Medicare savings of approximately $73 million over the next ten years.
H.R. 5534 was considered during a legislative hearing before the Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce on Wednesday.