Published Saturday, December 22, 2012

Don't cut dialysis program

As an employee of DaVita Newnan, I am on the front lines helping patients live with kidney disease.

Without either a transplant, or the life-saving dialysis, these patients would not survive. Eighty percent of our patients rely on Medicare for their dialysis treatments. So when lawmakers propose cuts to this aspect of the Medicare program, they are not only cutting funding, they are cutting off patients’ access to lifesaving treatments.

Few people are aware that already Medicare barely covers the full cost of dialysis treatments, thus many facilities are operating at a loss to serve these patients. Dialysis providers receive a “bundled” payment to cover an array of services, including three four-hour dialysis sessions, lab services, nursing care, medications and more.

Even with Medicare reimbursement, dialysis providers barely break even.

Cuts to this already stretched reimbursement would be devastating to patients. With many facilities possibly closing, many would have to travel long distances to receive care, or worse, be forced to receive care at a hospital emergency room at a higher cost to the system. Some would probably even miss out on necessary care because of access issues.

I encourage the citizens of Newnan to contact Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss and Rep. Lynn Westmoreland to urge them to spare our kidney patients — many of them our friends, neighbors and loved ones — from these aggressive cuts.

April Rowe, Newnan

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