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Congressmen Burgess (R-TX) and Kind (D-WI) Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Quality of Life for Kidney Transplant Patients; American Society of Transplantation (AST) Rallies Support in Washington, DC.

Legislation advanced in addition to a companion bill introduced in the Senate on July 29 by Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Cochran (R-MS)

WASHINGTON -- The American Society of Transplantation (AST) today announced their full support of bipartisan legislation introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) that aims to improve the quality of life for people with kidney disease. The Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act would assist thousands of Americans under the age of 65 who are being cut off from Medicare after 36 months by extending coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplant recipients.

During the past year, efforts to pass this legislation have been bolstered by AST, and a companion bill was introduced by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) before the US Senate on July 29. More than a dozen members of AST's Public Policy Committee flew into Washington, DC this week to garner additional support for both bills.

"On behalf of the American Society of Transplantation (AST), representing the majority of professionals engaged in the field of organ transplantation, I strongly applaud Congressmen Burgess (R-TX) and Kind (D-WI) for their leadership in introducing the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2011," said Dr. Robert Gaston, President of the American Society of Transplantation.

"This bipartisan and bicameral legislation will ensure that kidney recipients are able to maintain their life-saving donor organ," continued Gaston. "The transplant community and the patient population that it serves are extremely grateful to Congressmen Burgess and Kind for their steadfast commitment to this issue and the consequence of their efforts will lead to the saving of many lives."

As Vice Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health and Chairman of the Congressional Health Care Caucus, Congressman Burgess has been the lead sponsor of the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act.

"There are 31 million Americans with chronic kidney disease and this legislation will help ensure that transplant recipients continue to receive this vital anti-rejection therapy," said Congressman Burgess.

According to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), approximately 28,000 organ transplants were performed last year in the United States. The vast majority of transplants - over 16,800 Americans in 2010 - are provided to patients in need of a kidney because they are living with End Stage Renal Disease, ESRD, or kidney failure. However, for thousands of working Americans who had not yet reached 65 and were not disabled, treatment was cut off after 36 months regardless of their ability to pay for lifesaving therapy that can run more than $1,000 a month.

"Health care costs are the fastest growing area of spending in the national budget," said Rep. Kind. "We should be doing everything we can to improve patient care while getting these costs under control and this legislation is a great step in the right direction."

While these companion bills are historic and important steps, AST has stressed that more support is needed if there is to be real change towards improving the lives of transplant donors and recipients.

"We encourage the public to write their Congresspersons in support of the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2011," said William Applegate, Senior Policy Adviser for AST. "Let your elected officials know that you are behind transplant champions like Congressmen Burgess and Kind working to advance this important patient advocacy focused legislation."

For more information on the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2011, please visit: www.a-s-t.org.

About AST

The American Society of Transplantation is an international organization of transplant professionals who are dedicated to research, education, advocacy and patient care in transplant science and medicine. The Society comprises more than 3,200 transplant physicians, surgeons, scientists and allied health professionals. For more information about the Society, go to www.a-s-t.org.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Sep 22, 2011
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