Rep. Porter Leads New Oversight Effort on Dialysis Treatment Options

September 6, 2019
Press Release
Congresswoman calls for investigation into mechanisms driving more low-income patients into dialysis treatment

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) and Congressman Bobby Rush (IL-1) today called on the Trump Administration to consider the impact of both current and future policies on populations receiving dialysis treatment. They were joined by fourteen of their colleagues in their oversight letter sent to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma.

“Corporate greed should never be allowed to outweigh patient wellbeing,” Congresswoman Porter said. “I’m concerned that dialysis providers are engaging in predatory practices targeting the most vulnerable in our communities, instead of focusing on providing top-notch care to those who need treatment. The science is clear that we should endeavor to increase preventive and alternative treatments when and where possible, and I’m happy to work with Congressman Rush and the Administration on this important issue.”

“In the poorer parts of my District it sometimes seems that there is a Dialysis Center on every corner, and the current data appears to back up that observation. Therefore, we must continue to study the relationship between those receiving dialysis and their zip code and stand vigilant against predatory practices affecting the most vulnerable in our communities. It is critically important that we understand the factors affecting those receiving dialysis treatments, as well as the barriers that prevent individuals from receiving pre-dialysis kidney care and other forms of life saving preventative medicine.” said Congressman Rush.

Reps. Porter and Rush sent the letter in response to the President’s July launch of the Advancing American Kidney Health initiative. As the Administration invests in improving overall kidney health, Reps. Porter and Rush asked that HHS consider why the dialysis rate is so much higher for adults in low-income zip codes. Specifically, they request that the agency consider the role that access to quality, affordable preventative care and insurance coverage can play in improving overall health outcomes for those with kidney disease.

The percentage of adults beginning dialysis for kidney failure who live in zip codes with high poverty rates continues to increase. According to a study completed by the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, this percentage rose from 27.4 percent to 34 percent between 1995 and 2010 (an increase of 6.6 percentage points). At the same time, the general population saw an increase from 11 percent to 12.5 percent (an increase of 1.5 percentage points).

Today’s letter follows a July request Rep. Porter sent to the HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to investigate dialysis industry practices that are putting patients’ lives at risk and increasing the cost of care for taxpayers.

Read the full text of Porter’s newest letter HERE.

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