ROCKVILLE, Maryland, Dec. 29 — The American Kidney Fund issued the following statement:

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The following statement may be attributed to LaVarne A. Burton, president and CEO of the American Kidney Fund:

“The American Kidney Fund (AKF) thanks President Donald J. Trump for signing a legislative package that includes giving kidney transplant recipients comprehensive immunosuppressive drug coverage for the life of their transplant. AKF and all Ambassadors in the AKF Advocacy Network have worked tirelessly for years on this life sustaining legislation which adds a new Medicare coverage option for immunosuppressive drugs–also known as antirejection drugs–relied on by kidney transplant patients for the life of their transplant.

“Medicare previously only covered these needed drugs for 36 months after the date of transplant surgery for beneficiaries under the age of 65 who are eligible for Medicare because of their end-stage renal disease (ESRD, or kidney failure) status. Without consistent coverage, patients who could not find alternative health insurance and could not afford to pay out-of-pocket for their immunosuppressive drugs were left to face the loss of their kidney.

“Kidney transplant recipients must take immunosuppressive drugs, or their body will reject the transplanted organ–leading them back to dialysis and back on the kidney transplant waiting list, alongside the nearly 92,000 other patients waiting for a kidney. In fact, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly 70% of kidney transplant programs reported either a death or transplant loss because patients were unable to pay for their antirejection medications.

“Thanks to Congress, the Trump administration and the entire kidney community who continuously advocated for this legislation alongside AKF, a vital safety net for ESRD patients for whom access to health care is a matter of life and death will now go into effect. This legislation will support the 230,000 Americans living with a kidney transplant and will free up space on the transplant waiting list because a lack of access to immunosuppressive drugs will no longer be a sole cause of organ rejection. In 2019, just 1 in 4 patients on the wait list received a kidney.

“In 2019, the Trump administration launched the Advancing American Kidney Health initiative to address kidney disease–the fastest-growing noncommunicable disease in the America–and one of the goals of the initiative is to make significantly more transplants available. This new coverage option for immunosuppressive drugs will help to achieve that goal by preventing organ rejection caused by barriers to medication access and patients from being again added to an already overcrowded waiting list.

“The bill the President signed also includes two other vital provisions for kidney patients in the package: protecting patients from surprise medical bills and ensuring access to Medicaid non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) for critical services including dialysis treatment. These public policies are indispensable in our fight against kidney disease and reinforces the importance of the Administration’s initiative to make the kidney disease epidemic a national health priority.”

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