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Carter, Kuster, Miller, Sewell introduce bill preserving kidney disease patients’ access to life-saving medications

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Reps. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Carol Miller (R-WV), and Terri Sewell (D-AL) introduced the bipartisan Kidney PATIENT Act, a bill that supports access to critical care and lifesaving oral medicines for kidney disease patients.

In 2025, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is set to move oral-only drugs into the Medicare Part B End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) prospective payment system, which will threaten kidney disease patients’ access to life-saving medications and increase costs for dialysis treatments. The Kidney PATIENT Act will delay this move until 2033 or until new intravenous therapies come to the market, ensuring that patients can access the drugs prescribed by their physician at an affordable rate without kneecapping further innovation.

“We cannot let bureaucracy get in the way of patients’ health and well-being,” said Rep. Carter. “As a pharmacist, I know just how important it is for patients, especially those with kidney disease, to be able to access and afford the medicine prescribed by their doctor. This is bipartisan, it’s been done before, and it will save taxpayer dollars. Let’s pass this bill and stop CMS from gambling with patients’ lives.”

“Patients with complex medical conditions like End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) must have access to the medications that they need,” said Rep. Kuster. “Changes in Medicare’s ESRD Prospective Payment System could create barriers to essential medications and should be delayed until it's clear that patients’ access will not be impacted."

“Kidney patients should be able to access as many therapies as possible, as cost-effectively as possible. Access to oral-only drugs is critical to many patients. The Kidney PATIENT Act will not only save taxpayers money but provide affordable treatment for kidney patients across the country,” said Congresswoman Miller.

“The Kidney PATIENT Act is key to maintaining access to oral only medications that have been proven to increase the quality of life for millions of Americans experiencing kidney disease. I am proud to be leading this bipartisan, common sense legislation and urge my colleagues to give it their full support,” said Congresswoman Sewell.

This bill boasts robust support from key outside stakeholder groups.

“The Renal Support Network (RSN) supports this legislation to leave phosphate lowering therapies out of the ESRD bundle system so doctors have the freedom to prescribe the best treatment for each patient’s specific needs. There are hundreds of combinations of medications, and we must have the right dose to preserve our bone and cardiovascular health. RSN thanks Reps. Buddy Carter, Annie Kuster, Carol Miller, and Terri Sewell for their leadership on this important patient issue,” said Lori Hartwell, Founder and President, Renal Support Network.

“Because 1 in 3 adults living with Sickle Cell Disease has chronic kidney disease, we thank Reps. Buddy Carter, Carol Miller, Annie Kuster, and Terri Sewell for introducing the Kidney PATIENT Act. Keeping phosphate lowering drugs out of the ESRD bundle allows doctors and patients more control over their care regimen. It also reduces unnecessary burdens on the patient in accessing these critical medicines,” said Mapillar Dahn, Founder, MTS Sickle Cell Foundation.

“Rising health care costs pose the greatest financial threat to older adults, especially those on fixed incomes. This is why changing coverage for phosphate lowering therapies is exactly the wrong thing to do. It will increase costs for treatment especially for those with food security challenges,” said Robert B. Blancato, Executive Director President and CEO of National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs. “NANASP commends Representatives Buddy Carter, Ann McLane Kuster, Carol Miller, and Terri Sewell for their bipartisan leadership in protecting older adults’ access to PLT’s with the introduction of the Kidney PATIENT Act. We urge its prompt passage.”

 “The National Grange has worked tirelessly to bring equal access to healthcare and new innovations to farmers, ranchers, and rural Americans. If CMS shifts oral-only medications like phosphate binders into to the end stage renal disease payment bundle, patients who already have limited access to care – like those in rural areas – will experience new hardships getting treatment,” said Burton Eller, Executive Director of Grange Advocacy at the National Grange. “Thank you, Representatives Carter, Ann McLane Kuster, Carol Miller, and Terri Sewell for working to ensure all Americans have access to the care they need.”

“Our goal is to ensure that underserved and minoritized racial and ethnic communities receive optimal health care and we encourage policymakers and elected officials to embrace that objective. Patients on dialysis overcome many hurdles to obtain optimal care and the burden is even greater for members of historically disenfranchised population and patient cohorts,” said Dr. Gary A. Puckrein, President and CEO of the National Minority Quality Forum Action Network. “We applaud Representatives Buddy Carter, Ann McLane Kuster, Carol Miller, and Terri Sewell for taking action to preserve access to quality care for all patients on dialysis by sponsoring legislation to delay implementation of the inclusion of oral-only phosphate lowering therapies in the Medicare ESRD prospective payment system. We urge their colleagues to support passage this year.”

“The National Consumers League works to advocate for patient-centered health care that allows patients to have access to safe, effective, and affordable medicines. Due to likely changes in Medicare coverage, kidney patients will lose the access they need to quality care and innovative treatments without Congressional action,” said Robin Strongin, Senior Director of Health Policy at National Consumers League. “Thank you to Representatives Buddy Carter, Ann McLane Kuster, Carol Miller, and Terri Sewell for sponsoring the Kidney PATIENT Act, recognizing the need to protect patients with kidney failure.” 

Read the full bill text here.