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Texas Kidney Community: CMS Authorization to Survey 22 New Dialysis Centers Excellent First Step Toward Opening Additional Pending Facilities, Creating More Local Jobs

Federal, State Health Officials Praised for Expediting Necessary Facility Certification Process; Cornyn, Hutchison, 27 House Members Thanked for CMS Letter Effort Outlining Problem

AUSTIN, Texas, July 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In commending officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) for initiating the critical certification process necessary to open 22 new dialysis centers across the state, the Texas kidney community characterized the development as an excellent first step toward ultimately opening 38 additional end stage renal disease (ESRD) centers still sitting idle, which, if opened, will dramatically expand access to quality dialysis care and create good-paying local jobs.

"Opening these new state-of-the-art facilities will go a long way towards helping Texans with kidney failure live life to the fullest," said Jess Hall, President of the Texas Division of the National Kidney Foundation. "With additional facilities accessible, patients can receive dialysis treatment closer to home and at the time slot that works best for their schedule and lifestyle. Ultimately, this will enable patients to maximize their time and better juggle their treatment, family and work commitments. Patients who have choices tend to feel in control of their own health and lives and do better on their treatment."

"We commend CMS and the many Texas state officials who deserve credit for recognizing the certification backlog problem - with delays of up to 18 months - and then acting collegially in the public interest to greatly improve access to quality dialysis care for patients in these 22 affected communities," said Robert Hootkins, M.D., medical director of Fresenius Medical Care Austin North. "The end result will be better dialysis care for ESRD patients and more jobs for Texans - we applaud their action."

Senator John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Finance Committee who, with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Congressman Pete Sessions led a bipartisan Texas delegation letter-writing effort to CMS officials in Washington earlier this year outlining this problem, said: "I am pleased that CMS has started to work on the ESRD Medicare certification backlog. I believe that ESRD facilities are unique given the fact that up to 85 percent of dialysis patients are Medicare beneficiaries. These delays cause severe challenges for Texas Medicare beneficiaries' access to care, as well as threaten the viability of these facilities as part of the Texas economy."

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-11th), Vice-Chair of the Congressional Kidney Caucus and one of the 27 members of Congress who signed the letter to CMS, said, "CMS's decision to begin work on the accumulation of the ESRD Medicare certifications is a wonderful first step that will help kidney patients on Medicare receive better access to care. This will also provide much needed jobs to many Texans in the medical community, stimulate local economies, and provide stability to the ESRD providers that wish to serve the growing number of patients with kidney failure in our state. I applaud the CMS officials for taking the lead on this important cause."

According to 2008 estimates, more than 32,000 Texans suffering from ESRD - also known as kidney failure - rely on dialysis to perform the life-saving function of filtering their blood when their kidneys are no longer able to do so. Dialysis treatments also improve patients' health by removing excess salt and water from the body; helping to control blood pressure; and keeping a safe level of essential chemicals - such as potassium, sodium and bicarbonate - in the body.

Texas U.S. House members who signed the letter to CMS are Reps. Pete Sessions, Ron Paul, Gene Green, Mike Conaway, Michael Burgess, Pete Olson, Kevin Brady, Kenny Marchant, Chet Edwards, Louie Gohmert, Kay Granger, Ted Poe, Sheila Jackson Lee, Ralph Hall, Randy Neugebauer, Charlie Gonzalez, John Carter, Ruben Hinojosa, Henry Cuellar, Michael McCaul, Sam Johnson, Jeb Hensarling, Lamar Smith, John Culberson, Al Green, Eddie Bernice Johnson and Solomon Ortiz.

SOURCE Texas Kidney Care Coalition
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