Press Releases

Burgess, Kind Introduce Legislation to Protect Kidney Transplant Recipients

Washington, September 22, 2016 | Lesley Fulop (2022257772)

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressmen Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) and Ron Kind (D-WI) introduced the Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act. This legislation would allow individuals who are eligible for immunosuppressive drugs under Medicare Part B to continue to receive their vital treatment past the current 36 month cutoff. Without these drugs, transplant recipients are at risk to lose their transplanted kidneys – which too often occurs. 

“After the stress of undergoing an organ transplant and enduring the length of recovery, patients should not have to worry that a mandate from the federal government would prevent them from receiving treatment for as long as may be required,” said Burgess. “Patients should not have to sacrifice quality care due to the federal policy that denies coverage for anti-rejection drugs after 36 months. I am pleased to join Representative Kind in reintroducing this commonsense, bipartisan policy that will safeguard both patients and taxpayer dollars by preventing more costly alternatives such as organ rejection or return to dialysis.”

“Our organ transplant patients and their families should not be concerned about an arbitrary federal policy denying them access to medications that help them keep their transplanted kidney,” said Kind. “The legislation Rep. Burgess and I have introduced will provide kidney transplant patients continued access to medication to ensure the success of their transplant, while keeping health care costs down by decreasing the need for further dialysis and the likelihood of a re-transplant.”

Since 1972, Medicare has covered patients with irreversible kidney failure, or end-stage renal disease (ESRD). While there is no Medicare time limit for a dialysis patient, kidney transplant recipients lose their Medicare coverage 36 months after they receive their transplant. Extending immunosuppressive coverage beyond the 36 month limit would decrease the risk of organ failure due to patients neglecting to take the immunosuppressants following loss of immunosuppressive coverage. Furthermore, transplant recipients have a higher quality of life, and are more likely to return to employment than dialysis patients. 

The bill has support from numerous groups including the American Medical Association (AMA), National Kidney Foundation (NKF), American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS), American Society of Transplantation (AST), American Society of Nephrology (ASN), American Society of Pediatric Nephrology (ASPN), American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP), Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO), Dialysis Patient Citizens (DPC) and Renal Physicians Association (RPA).

“As a kidney transplant recipient myself, I can tell you that for many patients the costs of immunosuppressive medication can be prohibitive, and it just isn’t something you can skip. There are 100,000 people on the kidney transplantation wait list and a severe shortage of donated kidneys available. With an average wait time of five years for a transplant, public policy makers and the transplant community must do everything possible to provide, and maintain, coverage for transplant recipients,” said Kevin Longino, Chief Executive Officer, National Kidney Foundation (NKF).

"The immunosuppression bill will give access to lifesaving immunosuppressive therapies to transplant recipients who without critical drugs may lose their transplanted organs. The American Society of Transplantation (AST) applauds the leadership of congressmen Burgess and Kind in supporting passage of the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2016,” said Dr. Anil Chandraker, M.D., President, American Society of Transplantation (AST).