Recent clinical research demonstrates the significant benefits of more frequent dialysis. Better clinical outcomes, lower mortality, and higher survival – the list goes on. Recognizing the strength of this data (and heeding the calls of numerous patient advocates), large national commercial insurers, including UnitedHealthcare and Aetna, recently clarified their policies, granting greater access to home, and more frequent, hemodialysis for commercial patients.
In recent weeks, CMS’ proposed rules for both Physician Fee Schedule and ESRD PPS Rule came out. In the proposed Physician Fee Schedule, physician payment will increase for in-center dialysis, but will remain essentially unchanged for home dialysis. Physicians are already paid generally 20% less to care for their home dialysis patients, and under the proposed rule for physician payment this disparity would grow. In the proposed ESRD PPS Rule, there were no mentions of home hemodialysis. None. In the rule, CMS proposes a 2.5% increase to the bundled payment rate, representing hundreds of millions dollars of additional money going to the Medicare dialysis program. None of this increase is going to address the known payment issues impacting access to more frequent home hemodialysis.