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Medicare cuts

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

To the Editor:

Kidney disease affects one in 10 Americans, so chances are most of your readers know someone with kidney disease or kidney failure. Dialysis care is a lifeline for many of these patients, more than 80 percent of whom depend on Medicare for this life-sustaining treatment. Without dialysis or a kidney transplant, patients will not survive. Medicare cuts enacted in Washington from the fiscal cliff deal will have a significant impact on dialysis providers and patients nationwide.

For these beneficiaries, dialysis providers receive a bundled payment for a multitude of services. Specifically, patients receive four-hour dialysis sessions at least three times a week, which includes lab services, nursing care, medications and more. Medicare doesn’t cover the full cost of dialysis treatments, thus many dialysis facilities lose money on the majority of patients.

As policymakers in Washington discuss further budget cuts and the approaching 2 percent “sequestration” cut in March, they must remember that the bundled dialysis payment is already strained and still adjusting to 2011, 2012 and 2013 changes and cuts. I fear facilities could be forced to close their doors, leaving patients in a precarious situation – forced to travel long distances to receive care, dialyze at a hospital emergency room, which costs the system more money, or forgo some necessary care altogether.

Lawmakers simply must not cut vital services that Medicare makes available to kidney failure patients. I encourage you to contact U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam and express concern for patients in Crystal Lake who rely on dialysis care.

Graham Lawless

Crystal Springs Dialysis, Crystal Lake

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