Medicare Bill needs support for home hemodialysis

[FONT=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]The Honorable Debbie Stabenow[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]US Senate[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]Washington D.C.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]Dear Senator Stabenow:[/FONT]
[FONT=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]Thank you for your support for the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act (S. 2320)[/FONT]. This will bill certainly help the transplant community.

While I have had two kidney transplants neither have worked for me. What has worked is short term daily dialysis. I have been using the compact NxStage System One in my home for the past two years. Through the care I get from my local Nephrologist and DaVita @ Home I have noticed a significant change in my lifestyle. I dialyze for about two hours and forty-five minutes each day, six days a week which more closely reflects how kidneys work as opposed to traditional three times a week hemodialysis.

Because of this I have been able to be my eight year old son’s Cub Scout Den Leader and baseball coach. I am my four year old daughters primary care giver while my wife is at work. I’ve been on the City of East Lansing’s Environmental Commission. I regularly raise approximately $6,000/year for the National Kidney Foundation through our Lansing Walk. And perhaps most importantly, have been able to the supportive husband to my wife of twenty years that I was before I lost the use of kidneys.

I understand that reimbursement prevents many from experiencing the same renewal on life that I now have. This is unfortunate now that we are finding research to support that short term daily hemodialysis and even better, daily nocturnal hemodialysis, very well may provide the same health benefits as a kidney transplant. This is an exciting time for renal patients. With these therapies many of us will be back to work and paying our taxes, making contributions to our families and our communities. In short - living fulfilling lives.

I ask that you help to see that this month’s Medicare bill contain provisions for access to home daily hemo dialysis and that you help to secure language similar to the following:

[By no later than June 30, 2009], the Secretary shall develop and begin evaluating a budget neutral reimbursement arrangement that allows beneficiaries with end-stage renal disease to receive daily home hemodialysis services. In developing and evaluating such a reimbursement arrangement, the Secretary shall ensure that beneficiaries who live in rural and underserved areas have access to needed dialysis services in the setting of their choice.

Thank you for your help. For thousands like me, dialysis is the true gift of life.

Erich Ditschman