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Bi-partisan bill to provide unlimited coverage of immunosuppressive drugs reintroduced in Congress again.

The seemingly annual ritual of introducing bipartisan legislation which, if finally passed, would end the 36month cutoff of coverage for immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplant recipients has occured. The bill to amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act--The Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage Act of 2013--was introduced by US Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Thad Cochran (RMS)

The bill states: "Beginning on January 1, 2014, every individual whose insurance benefits under part A have ended (whether before, on, or after such date eligible for enrollment in the insurance program established by this solely for purposes of coverage of immunosuppressive drugs."

"Of the 100,000 patients waiting for a kidney transplant, those patients lucky enough to undergo a successful transplant should not have to worry about being able to pay for the medication that will reduce the risk of organ rejection," Senator Durbin said in a press release. "In 2000, Congress passed legislation that provided older or disabled individuals lifetime coverage for immunosuppressive drugs through Medicare. Today's legislation will extend that coverage to all patients trying to live healthy lives after kidney transplants."

The effects of the disparity of coverage evidenced in the hypothetical case of a young woman, was outlined in the press release on the bill issued by Sen. Durbin's office. For example, a 26-year-old woman living with ESRD would have lifelong dialysis covered by Medicare at $77,500 annually. Medicare would cover the cost of a transplant at $110,000. The immunosuppressive drugs she would need to ensure the organ isn't rejected are only covered for 36 months and the drugs are far less costly at $10,000 to $20,000 a year. Without immunosuppressive drugs to keep the kidney from rejecting, many patients find themselves right back where they started: in need of a kidney. This circular cycle of care is costing taxpayers a lot of money and putting thousands of lives at risk.

"The re-introduction of the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Act provides a commonsense approach and is a major step for the more than 100,000 individuals currently on the waiting list for a lifesaving donor organ," said Dr. Roz Mannon, President of the American Society of Transplantation (AST).

To get a copy of the bill send an e-mail to: BoxerPress
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Publication:Transplant News
Date:Feb 1, 2013
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