Daily on Healthcare: Executive order gives hope to kidney patients

By | August 6, 2019

Subscribe today to the Washington Examiner magazine and get Washington Briefing: politics and policy stories that will keep you up to date with what’s going on in Washington. SUBSCRIBE NOW: Just $ 1.00 an issue!

EXECUTIVE ORDER GIVES HOPE TO KIDNEY PATIENTS: The Trump administration’s recent pledge to transform kidney care is cause for hope for late-stage kidney disease patients languishing on transplant lists and in dialysis clinics. However, the administration has not publicized the details of its plans to make at-home dialysis more accessible and to encourage development of artificial kidneys, leaving patients and doctors with many questions.

The focal point of the administration’s plan to improve kidney disease treatment, which has been stagnant for over 40 years, is to increase access to in-home dialysis. The rate of patients undergoing dialysis in the comfort of their own homes remains low but is gradually increasing, thanks in part to the portable, easy-to-use NxStage home dialysis machine, writes Cassidy Morrison in our latest magazine issue.

Each year, dialysis in clinics costs Medicare about $ 34 billion. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a plan as part of the executive order to adjust payments for home dialysis claims to randomly chosen clinics based on performance. If a clinic makes at-home dialysis accessible effectively, the clinic receives more funding. CMS said the model will cut Medicare spending overall, while providing better care for patients, but has not yet announced which clinics will participate.

Those who have begun at-home dialysis say it’s the best treatment available and that the administration is right to prioritize access to the program. Nieltje Gedney, treasurer of the advocacy group Home Dialyzors United, told the Washington Examiner that when you get comfortable using the NxStage machine at home, it becomes a normal part of your life. “It’s like brushing your teeth,” she said. Rather than go to a clinic three times each week for four-hour sessions hooked up to a machine, Gedney is able to tailor her treatment schedule to fit her life and allow her to save time and even travel.

She worries that innovative, accessible at-home dialysis programs will come too late for many with end-stage renal disease. Gedney wants dialysis treatments at home to become available to all as quickly as possible. The executive order neglects to offer a time frame in which the administration will carry out its plans.

“I am hopeful, but it won’t happen overnight,” she said. “Our work is just beginning.”

Read more from our latest magazine issue.

Good morning and welcome to the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Healthcare! This newsletter is written by senior healthcare reporter Kimberly Leonard (@LeonardKL) and healthcare reporter Cassidy Morrison (@CassMorrison94). You can reach us with tips, calendar items, or suggestions at dailyonhealthcare@washingtonexaminer.com. If someone forwarded you this email and you’d like to receive it regularly, you can subscribe here.

ALEXANDER: ‘I AM READY TO DO MORE’ ON GUN VIOLENCE: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, vowed in response to mass shootings this weekend that his committee would consider funding state efforts to improve school safety and measures to improve treatment for mental illness. “Our nation cannot ignore these mass shootings… I am ready to do more, especially on background checks, to identify those who shouldn’t have guns,” Alexander said in a statement, responding to a call for action from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

SUICIDE RATE OF MILITARY SERVICE MEMBERS REACHED ALL TIME HIGH IN 2018: In 2018, 325 military service members died by suicide, surpassing the previous record of 321 in 2012, according to Pentagon’s Defense Suicide Prevention Office. The military suicide rate has risen steadily since 2016, but the 2018 data shows a significant spike from the 2017 count of 285.

A separate Pentagon report found that almost half of those who killed themselves in 2017 had been diagnosed with a behavioral health illnesses, and and more than half of those service members contacted the Military Health System within 90 days of the suicides.

DELAURO AND ROYBAL-ALLARD PUT PRESSURE OVER DETENTION CENTER FLU RISK: Democratic representatives Rosa DeLauro and Lucille Roybal-Allard have put pressure on Health and Human Services about the risk that the flu could spread quickly in detention centers. They criticized HHS for their slow response for the quick spread of the virus, which has already resulted in three deaths.

DeLauro and Roybal-Allard forwarded a letter from public health officials and pediatricians to HHS, which offered advice as to how to screen for, prevent, and treat the flu in kids, and questioned HHS about what the department is doing to prevent the spread as flu season approaches. The medical professionals and the two representatives demanded answers from HHS by August 30.

MEASLES CASES ARE STILL ON THE RISE, BUT THE RATE IS SLOWING: As of August 1, the number of measles cases had increased from the previous week by 8 cases, reaching 1,172. While this is the highest number of cases since 1992, the rate of increase has been slowing. For example, the rate of increase as of July 11 from the previous week was 14. On June 20, the Centers for Disease Control reported cases had increased by 33 from the previous week, and by on May 10, cases had risen by 75.

The Rundown

The Wall Street Journal Waiting-room anxiety eased with apps that give updates

Kansas City Star Attorney general: Dozens of KanCare abuse complaints went to email no one checked

Stat Alzheimer’s patients didn’t decline after getting a cocktail derived from young blood, but big questions remain

California Healthline Modern wildfires pose new health risks for firefighters

Stateline There aren’t enough doctors to treat HIV in the South

Calendar

TUESDAY | Aug. 6

Congress in August recess.

Aug. 2-6. Walter E. Washington Convention Center. American Veterinary Medical Association annual meeting. Details.

WEDNESDAY | Aug. 7

8 a.m. CVS second quarter earnings call. Details.

11 a.m. 529 14th St. NW. National Press Club. Report to be released on “U.S. Fertility Industry Crisis.”

Healthcare