O’Halleran Leads Bipartisan Group to Introduce Legislation to Expand Access to Treatment for Kidney Patients

September 4, 2020
Press Release

VILLAGE OF OAK CREEK – Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01), Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN-08), Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK-02), and Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-01) introduced The Renal Anemia Innovation Support and Expansion (RAISE) Act, legislation to keep older patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) healthy by expanding Medicare to cover an effective oral treatment for renal anemia that can be taken in the safety of their own homes.

“American seniors have paid into Medicare their entire lives; the program should serve them completely and holistically. As we continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic, Medicare beneficiaries with pre-existing conditions like CKD are at a higher risk of infection and complication,” said O’Halleran. “Our bipartisan legislation will expand Medicare to include what almost all other insurers already cover to allow these at-risk patients to receive effective treatment in the safety and comfort of their own homes.”

Patients with CKD are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 because they are generally older, immunocompromised, or have underlying co-morbidities, such as diabetes and heart disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends these individuals remain isolated at home and avoid contact with others during the pandemic.

“As a physician and a co-chair of the Congressional Kidney Caucus, I understand the importance of treating iron deficiency anemia in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and making sure patients have access to treatment. That is why I am proud to join Representative O’Halleran in introducing the RAISE Act, which will clarify otherwise murky waters and allow access for patients with CKD to oral treatment options,” said Bucshon. “Given the heightened risk of severe complications associated with COVID-19 for patients with CKD, allowing for an at-home treatment option during this pandemic is important because it will allow CKD patients to get the treatment they need without increased risk of exposure to the virus.”

“Roughly 37 million Americans suffer from Chronic Kidney Disease and there more than 67,000 confirmed cases among Medicare beneficiaries in Oklahoma alone. Native Americans are also at a much higher risk of developing this potentially life threatening disease than other populations," said Mullin. "I am proud to join my colleagues to introduce this legislation to ensure CKD patients on Medicare have access to the same life-saving medication as patients on private insurance and they’ll be able to get it without having an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19.”

“Commonsense policies that improve access to care and avoid health risks should be pursued and the RAISE Act does just that for patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Patients with CKD are already vulnerable to health complications and even more so now during this historic high-risk environment of the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients should not be forced to seek risky and expensive treatments when safer options exist. Fortunately, there is a simple way to help protect these patients while also improving access to care," said Butterfield. "I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the RAISE Act. This bill will provide oral CKD treatment options in Medicare so that CKD patients can avoid onerous and potentially dangerous intravenous infusions and safely receive treatment at home.“

BACKGROUND:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) interprets the Medicare Part D statute to exclude the only oral prescription drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of iron deficiency anemia in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Although virtually all other government and commercial payers cover the drug, the only alternative treatment available to Medicare beneficiaries is to obtain intravenous infusions at hospital-based or outpatient infusion centers. The RAISE Act provides access to a safe, innovative, oral treatment for IDA and allows vulnerable kidney patients to stay at home to receive treatment and avoid settings that increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

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