As a health care provider who cares for Tacoma-area patients with kidney failure who rely on life-saving dialysis, I want to thank Congressman Derek Kilmer for his recent visit to DaVita’s Tacoma Dialysis Clinic to learn more about kidney care in our community.
Kidney failure patients receive 4-hour dialysis sessions three times a week – 80 percent of whom rely on Medicare to pay for their care with a “bundled” payment covering a multitude of services including lab services, nursing care, medications and more. Yet, Medicare doesn’t cover the full cost of these dialysis treatments, so many dialysis facilities lose money on the majority of patients.
As policymakers in Washington contemplate further budget with the “fiscal cliff deal” and prepare to enact a two percent “sequestration” cut in March, I fear dialysis facilities near and far – still adjusting to 2011, 2012, and 2013 payment changes and cuts – could be forced to close their doors, thereby forcing patients to travel long distances to receive care, to dialyze at a hospital emergency room at a higher cost to the system, or forgo some necessary care altogether.
I encourage TNT readers to contact Rep. Kilmer and express their support for our neighbors and loved ones who rely on dialysis care to survive. Lawmakers simply must not cut vital services Medicare makes available to America’s kidney failure patients.
(Sorenson is facility administrator for DaVita Tacoma Dialysis.)