If you or someone you know has had a kidney transplant, you should know that Medicare has a strict 36-month limit for paying for anti-rejection drugs, which are essential for your survival and the survival of your graft. As Senators review health reform bills this week, one big question concerns whether a proposed Senate bill, S. 565 -the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2009, would extend payment for the drugs from a 36-month limit. Immunosuppressive drugs are essential for maintaining your transplant and keeping you alive.
Anti-rejection medications cost between $1,000 to $3,000 per month. Seventy percent of transplant centers report that patients have an "extremely" or "very serious" problem paying for their medications, and 68% of kidney transplant deaths or organ losses are believed to be a result of lack of access to kidney transplant medication, according to an American Society of Transplantation and United Network for Organ Sharing survey.
Continued coverage could make a huge difference in lengthening the patients' lives and transplanted kidneys. The kidney transplant community has been pushing the Senate to integrate this into health reform legislation.
You can help by asking your senator to back the bill and include it in health reform law. To locate your senator's contact information, search the Senate Roster.