O’Halleran Leads Bipartisan Group to Re-Introduce Bill Expanding Access to Treatment for Kidney Patients

April 30, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON – 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), re-introduced the Renal Anemia Innovation Support and Expansion (RAISE) Act: legislation to expand Medicare to cover an effective oral treatment for renal anemia to ensure older, high-risk patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are able to receive treatment from the safety of their own homes.

“Over the past year, this public health crisis has further complicated the ways in which many Arizonans receive essential health care and treatment. Now more than ever, it is critical that Medicare can continue to provide seniors who have paid into the program their entire lives with comprehensive, accessible care,” said O’Halleran. “I’m proud to re-introduce this bipartisan legislation that will expand Medicare coverage to ensure these at-risk patients are able to safely and comfortably receive effective treatment for CKD.”

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 RAISE Act provides access to a safe, innovative, oral treatment for iron deficiency anemia (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.

“As a physician and 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 my colleagues in introducing the bipartisan 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, as it will allow CKD patients to receive the treatment they need without increased risk of exposure to the virus.”

“Roughly 37 million Americans suffer from Chronic Kidney Disease, with more than 67,000 confirmed cases among Medicare beneficiaries in Oklahoma alone. Equally concerning, Native Americans are 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.”

“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”

The bill is endorsed by the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP), the largest kidney advocacy organization in the nation.

"Representatives O'Halleran, Buschon, Butterfield and Mullin are to be commended for their bipartisan leadership and aggressive commitment to ending treatment disparities for millions of patients suffering from iron deficiency anemia, including many who struggle to maintain their jobs" said Paul T. Conway, a 40-year kidney patient and Chair of Policy and Global Affairs for the American Association of Kidney Patients.  "Covid-19 continues to pose severe risks to millions of vulnerable Americans impacted by kidney disease, so it makes zero sense to force many of these patients into a clinical setting for status quo iron therapy when safe, effective FDA-approved oral alternatives exist that can be taken at home with less burden. This legislation addresses a serious inequity that patients and kidney doctors have long viewed as barrier to more cost-effective and truly patient-centered medicine."

View a letter of support for the RAISE Act from the American Kidney Fund, Dialysis Patient Citizens, and the Renal Support Network, HERE.

View text of the legislation, HERE.

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.

###

Issues: