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New Survey Reveals Kidney Patients' Concern About Medicare Policies

GLENDALE, Calif., Sept. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Over 800 patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) responded to a survey conducted by the Renal Support Network, a non-profit organization. The survey focused on current issues that affect the care of patients with CKD, including Medicare policies on anemia management, patient education, reimbursement for transplant medications and dialysis services.

The survey explored patient preferences for administering anemia management drugs called erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESAs). For almost 20 years, these drugs have been administered through the tubing of the dialysis machine, which provides an effective and painless method of receiving treatment via already established intravenous route (IV). During a recent testimony at the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on health, it was stated that patients on hemodialysis would not mind receiving ESA therapy by the subcutaneous (SC) route -- which would mean that patients would have to receive the medication via an oftentimes-painful injection in the skin.

The results of the survey revealed that 85% felt that the decision on how to administer medications should be made by the patient and their physician, and should not be dictated by government policy. On a related question, 84% of patients prefer having ESAs administered in the tubing of their hemodialysis machine.

RSN included some questions in the survey about the administration of ESAs because numerous patients contacted them after viewing the testimony at the health subcommittee, baffled by statements that patients wouldn't mind additional subcutaneous injections. Survey comments illustrated how strongly most patients objected to subcutaneous administration of ESAs. For example, Kathe LeBeau, a patient on dialysis, said, "I resent the implication that no kidney patients mind additional needle sticks. With all the tests and medications and invasive treatments commensurate with that, even one more needle stick a week is very much an affront to me."

Results of the survey also showed that 62% of patients are concerned about their ability to obtain the immunosuppressant medication to prevent organ rejection. Medicare currently pays for 36 months of treatment, and patients are then forced to find alternative methods of paying for these medications if they are unable to obtain health insurance.

"Since Medicare pays for kidney transplants for most patients, it doesn't make sense for the government to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a kidney transplant, and then not pay for the ongoing treatments that are necessary to ensure that the transplant continues to work," stated Lori Hartwell, Founder and President of Renal Support Network.

In summarizing the results of the survey, Hartwell observed that many patients with chronic kidney disease are very involved in their own care and work in partnership with their medical team. "We will continue to help patients raise their voices about government policies that affect our quality of life," stated Hartwell.

Renal Support Network is led by kidney patients to instill health, happiness, and hope through education, advocacy, and awareness... one person at a time. Full results from the survey are available at

SOURCE Renal Support Network
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