The Medicare Bureaucracy Is Unnecessarily Putting Kidney Patients At Risk

The Medicare Bureaucracy Is Unnecessarily Putting Kidney Patients At Risk

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidance for healthcare facilities in response to the COVID-19 virus including asking all U.S. healthcare facilities to “explore alternatives to face-to-face triage and visits.”

The CDC has issued this recommendation to help contain the spread of the virus, protect healthcare workers from unnecessary exposure, and protect the health of patients who do not require face-to-face medical visits (particularly patients with underlying health issues including those with heart, kidney and weakened immune systems).

In light of this guidance, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) decision not to cover an FDA-approved, at-home medicine for patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) is irresponsible. With most Americans ordered to shelter-in-place, vulnerable kidney patients shouldn’t be forced into crowded hospitals for several hours of infusions when they could be taking an oral alternative in the safety and comfort of their own homes.

Known as Auryxia (ferric citrate), this medicine is the only FDA-approved oral therapy for iron deficiency anemia (anemia) in patients with CKD who are not on dialysis. Anemia is a large risk for the CKD patient population and if left untreated it increases risks for cardiovascular disease, progression to end-stage renal disease, and premature death.

Auryxia’s benefits are well documented. One recent study in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology demonstrated that oral ferric citrate reduced the number of hospital admissions, lowered the number of days spent in the hospital for patients admitted, and reduce the use of dialysis. With more than 37 million Americans living with CKD, Auryxia has the potential to provide great value to patients.

Known as Auryxia (ferric citrate), this medicine is the only FDA-approved oral therapy for iron deficiency anemia (anemia) in patients with CKD who are not on dialysis. Anemia is a large risk for the CKD patient population and if left untreated it increases risks for cardiovascular disease, progression to end-stage renal disease, and premature death.

Auryxia’s benefits are well documented. One recent study in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology demonstrated that oral ferric citrate reduced the number of hospital admissions, lowered the number of days spent in the hospital for patients admitted, and reduce the use of dialysis. With more than 37 million Americans living with CKD, Auryxia has the potential to provide great value to patients.

I am a Senior Fellow in Business and Economics at the Pacific Research Institute and the Director of PRI’s Center for Medical Economics and Innovation. My research explores the connection between macroeconomic policies and economic outcomes, with a focus on the health care and energy industries. I have over 25 years of experience advising Fortune 500 companies, medium and small businesses, and trade associations. I received my Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University.

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