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Improved Care for Kidney Patients Reduces Medicare Costs and Saves Taxpayers Money
Date:4/13/2009

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., April 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The cost to Medicare for managing chronic kidney disease (CKD) is high; however, IPRO is urging health care providers in New York to work together to both improve patient care and reduce costly complications from the disease.

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Medicare costs for CKD and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) exceed $70 billion annually according to United States Renal Data System (USRDS) data. IPRO is one of only eleven organizations from across the country that has been chosen by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to work on a new pilot project that has the potential to both help patients and save taxpayers a substantial amount of money.

"We are partnering with primary care physicians, nephrologists and vascular surgeons to improve care for patients at risk of, and with CKD by preventing or slowing the progression of the disease," explained Clare Bradley, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer at IPRO. According to the USRDS, the savings to Medicare for each patient who does not progress to dialysis is estimated to be $288,000.

Bradley said improving the health and well-being of CKD patients could have a substantial economic impact considering Medicare beneficiaries with CKD account for 16.5 percent of Medicare costs in the year the disease is diagnosed, and 11.1 percent in the next year.

"We are confident that better care for these patients can lead to considerable cost savings, improved outcomes and better quality of life because it can mean less reliance on drugs, dialysis, and hospitalization," said Bradley. The IPRO project encourages prevention and early detection of CKD and proper medication recommendations to slow the progression of the disease.

IPRO also supports the nationwide Fistula First effort which addresses the need for patients who suffer from ESRD to have safer, higher-quality access to hemodialysis through a fistula. Bradley explained that a fistula is a "connection" surgically created by joining a vein and an artery in the forearm allowing blood from the artery to flow into the vein for safe and easy access for dialysis.

"Fistulas make a real, proven difference in the health of the patient. By providing a method of dialysis that is safer, longer lasting, and less likely to cause infection, fistulas are seen as the gold standard for vascular access," said Bradley.

Fistulas reduce serious infections and complications leading to hospitalizations and mortality often associated with other forms of vascular access for kidney patients. Vascular access complications account for 16 to 25 percent of all hemodialysis patient admissions, contributing to about $1.5 billion in Medicare costs annually. In addition, fistulas cost less to maintain than other forms of access and are associated with less re-work and complications requiring hospitalization.

IPRO is part of the nationwide Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) Program. QIOs work with health care providers, consumers and stakeholder groups to refine care delivery systems to make sure all people - particularly those from underserved populations - get the right care every time.

This material was prepared by IPRO, the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization for New York State, under contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contents do not necessarily reflect CMS policy.


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