Nation’s Kidney Community Deeply Disappointed with Supreme Court Ruling in Marietta Memorial Hospital Employee Benefit Health Plan v. DaVita

 Kidney Care Partners (KCP) – the nation’s largest non-profit, non-partisan coalition of more than 30 organizations, comprising patients, dialysis professionals, physicians, nurses, researchers, therapeutic innovators, transplant coordinators, and manufacturers – today, expressed deep disappointment in the Supreme Court ruling on Marietta Memorial Hospital Employee Benefit Health Plan v. DaVita, citing concern about discrimination in accessing affordable quality care for individuals living with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and its impact on growing health inequities.

“The insurer practice at issue – shifting patients prematurely to Medicare – will exacerbate inequalities in access and quality care for an already vulnerable population. This ruling is a blow to promoting affordable patient choice and instead unfairly shifts costs to the American taxpayer. We feel this decision leaves patients with ESRD vulnerable to discriminatory and inequitable insurer practices, and in fact, is not consistent with the Administration’s own goals on health equity,” said John P. Butler, Chair of KCP.

Premature loss of private group health coverage can be devastating for some patients living with ESRD. Often, private insurance plans offer more coverage options than Medicare does. Some of these services, such as dental coverage, can be essential in controlling infections that, if not caught early, can exclude a patient from transplant waitlists. More comprehensive disease management services can provide better outcomes by helping to manage other chronic diseases common in patients requiring dialysis. Private insurance may, in some cases, also provide lower copays and deductibles and limits on out-of-pocket costs than Medicare. When a patient living with ESRD loses private insurance coverage, the consequences can also extend to other family members under that policy who do not qualify for Medicare and may face substantially higher costs, deductibles, and other cost requirements resulting from that loss of coverage.

“Despite this ruling, KCP remains steadfast in our commitment to ensuring equitable, affordable access to quality care for the millions of individuals living with or at risk for kidney disease,” said Butler. “We stand ready and willing to work with Congress and other policymakers to address the gap created by today’s ruling and clarify the intent of the Medicare Secondary Payor Act to better protect patients from exclusionary measures like this. More must be done to ensure that no one is denied or discriminated against because of the treatment they need because of their disease.”

The issue in the case was whether a group health insurance plan that limited access to outpatient dialysis treatments violated the Medicare Secondary Payer statute by discriminating against patients based on their need for dialysis. In January, KCP filed an amicus brief that argued that the health plan discriminated against those with ESRD by limiting coverage for life-sustaining treatment, thereby forcing patients to drop private group coverage, and financial protections, in favor of Medicare. The recent Supreme Court opinion disagreed with that argument.

Kidney Care Partners

Sarah Feagan

703-543-9180

http://www.kidneycarepartners.org

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Nation’s Top Medicare Advantage Insurers Reported by Medicare Insurance Association

 UnitedHealthcare was the nation’s leading provider of Medicare Advantage plans according to a report shared today by the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance.

“UnitedHealthcare accounted for 27 percent of all MA plans followed by Humana with 18 percent,” shares Jesse Slome, director of the Medicare insurance advocacy organization. “As more consumers favor Medicare Advantage plan coverage, we are being asked which plans do people most frequently choose.”

According to the Association, some 29 million Americans are expected to be enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan this year. “For the first time, that’s more than twice the number selecting a Medigap or Medicare Supplement plan,” Slome adds.

Some 14 percent of MA plans were offered by a Blue Cross / Blue Shield entity followed by CVS Health (Aetna) which was the choice of 11 percent of all plan participants in 2021.

“Picking the best Medicare plan option is more complex than ever,” declares Slome. “And competition for consumers has reached a frenzied pace, just looking at the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on television ads featuring celebrity spokespeople.”

To help consumers seeking information, the organization makes available a national online directory listing local Medicare insurance agents who offer Medicare Advantage and Medigap plan information and rate comparisons. Access to the directory is free and completely private. Go to www.medicaresupp.org/find-local-agent/ for more information.

The American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance (AAMSI) advocates for the importance of planning. See the listing of top Medicare Advantage plan insurers at www.medicaresupp.org/top-medicare-advantage-plans/.

American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance

Jesse R. Slome

818-597-3205

www.medicaresupp.org

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Nation’s Largest Kidney Coalition Submits Comments to HHS on Improving Organ Transplant Equity, Home Dialysis Access, Kidney Care Quality

 Kidney Care Partners (KCP) – a non-profit coalition of more than 30 organizations, comprising patients, dialysis professionals, physicians, nurses, researchers, therapeutic innovators, transplant coordinators and manufacturers – has submitted comments through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) in response to the Agency’s request for information (RFI) on kidney care improvements. This request focused on how to advance equity and reduce disparities in organ transplantation, improve life-saving donations, provide individuals with CKD with access to more preventative services, promote greater care coordination for individuals receiving dialysis and empower individuals when making decisions about their treatment options, including removing socio-economic barriers to selecting home dialysis.

“We’re very pleased to see HHS and CMS spotlight the unique needs of the more than 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, kidney failure, and kidney transplants by calling on the kidney community to come together with actionable, tangible recommendations to improve care,” said John P. Butler, Chair of KCP. “Given that individuals with kidney disease are disproportionately from communities of color and often experience inequities in the delivery of care, now is the time to investigate, invest in, and implement policies that will improve access and choice to quality care and innovations for all.”

The response letter, written with input from leadership among KCP members from across the kidney care continuum, addresses a broad range of topics, emphasizing improving the organ and transplantation ecosystem and delivering care to individuals with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end stage renal disease (ESRD). KCP brought together experts in each of the topic areas of the RFI – CKD, dialysis, and transplant – in a series of half-day working sessions to build the consensus recommendations.

Regarding transplants, KCP’s letter notes that “the current processes involved in waitlisting a patient leads to only a fraction of patients being actually listed.” Policy recommendations to address this issue include enhancing education and communication to patients around transplant, increasing transplant data transparency and addressing patient access issues, among others.

KCP specifically calls on HHS and CMS to “eliminate the silos within the health information system and ensure that all providers in the kidney care community can have a 360-degree view of patients’ health data” to improve care coordination and patient outcomes.

KCP also recommended that “HHS work across its agencies and with other stakeholders to slow the progression of CKD and empower patients to select the modality that works best for them” when considering their health care choices.

The comment letter specifically highlights the work of Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) along with Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) who have introduced The Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act of 2021 (H.R. 4065/ S. 1971) that would address shortcomings of the current Kidney Disease Education benefit (KDE) in Medicare and expand it to allow more patients access to KDE services and permit more providers to offer these services. The legislation would also increase awareness among beneficiaries by incorporating CKD screening in the annual Medicare wellness visit.

Additional recommendations in KCP’s response include expanding telehealth access, increasing education and awareness of kidney disease and incentivizing providers to help slow disease progression to delay or avoid ESRD altogether.

KCP also calls on the Administration to remove artificial restrictions that make it difficult for dialysis facilities and nephrologists to support patients whose socio-economic status creates barriers that can prevent them from accessing home dialysis options or receiving a transplant.

“The potential for individuals with kidney diseases to live longer and fuller lives is better than ever, but there’s still much more to be done,” said Michele Kimball, Executive Director of KCP. “KCP has always been a leading advocate for patients and pro-patient policies, and we look forward to working with HHS, CMS, and other stakeholder groups to expand options and choices for patients that drive changes for even better access to quality care and improved outcomes.”

To view the full response from KCP, click here.

Kidney Care Partners

Sarah Feagan

703-543-9180

http://www.kidneycarepartners.org

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United Nations grants observer status to International Solar Alliance in a historic decision


United Nations grants Observer status to International Solar Alliance. This is going to give impetus to “ One Sun One world one grid “. This will help in bringing equitable energy solutions to the world.


In a congratulatory tweet Union Minister for Power and MNRE Shri R.K Singh said that the historic decision of granting Observer Status to International Solar Alliance by United Nations is going to be a stepping stone in furtherance of Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of One Sun One World One Grid. Shri Singh tweeted on the occasion and said that this will  provide a big boost to the initiative to bring about just and equitable energy solutions through the deployment of solar energy.



The historic decision of granting Observer Status to @isolaralliance by United Nations is going to be a stepping stone in furtherance of PM Shri @narendramodi Ji’s vision of One Sun One World One Grid.

— R. K. Singh (@RajKSinghIndia) December 10, 2021

Shri Singh also marked that this would immensely help towards achieving the goal of net-zero carbon emissions through global co-operations.


He reaffirmed that  India is progressively contributing to this mission by having a significant share of RE in the power mix.


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MV/IG




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Nation’s Leading Kidney Care Organization Announces Michele Kimball to Serve as New Executive Director

 Kidney Care Partners (KCP) – the nation’s leading kidney care multi-stakeholder coalition representing patient advocates, physician organizations, health professional groups, dialysis providers, researchers and manufacturers – today announced the hiring of Michele Kimball to serve as the coalition’s new Executive Director. Kimball brings over 30 years of policy and patient advocacy experience to the position.

“As a long-time and passionate advocate for patient care, I’m excited and honored to meet the challenge of leading Kidney Care Partners, a group that truly reflects every aspect of kidney care,” shared Kimball. “There are 37 million people in this country who need and deserve affordable, equitable access to quality kidney care, and KCP is the coalition that can drive these changes that patients need and want.”

“We’re thrilled to have Michele join the team and bring her unique vision and experience to support KCP’s vision of improving quality of care, choice and access for individuals living with kidney diseases,” said John P. Butler, Chair of KCP. “Her commitment to patients, care access and equity make her a great fit to lead KCP and help shape and improve the future of kidney care.”

Prior to joining KCP, Kimball served in a number of leadership roles working to bring change in the healthcare system to benefit patients and support their professional and informal caregivers. Previously, she served more than 20 years as both a health policy advocate for AARP in Washington, DC, as well as the Director of AARP’s Minnesota State Office. Most recently, she was the President and CEO of Physicians for Fair Coverage, a national, multi-specialty, non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization that successfully and collaboratively worked to end surprise medical billing at both the state and federal levels, and was the Principal and Founder of AdvocateUS, working with numerous national organizations to support efforts to enhance patient access to affordable care.

“There is much to do – from much needed payment reform to creating greater equity and affordability in accessing care, to improving choice in where this care is received, to enhancing research and supporting innovation in kidney care, manufacturing and therapeutics. I intend to ensure that KCP continues to put those living with kidney disease at the center of all we do,” Kimball concluded.

Kidney Care Partners

Sarah Feagan

703-548-0019

http://www.kidneycarepartners.org/

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