For a patient to qualify for Medicare, they must be over 65 or have kidney disease. However, some individuals can qualify for Medicare earlier if they have a disability or certain medical conditions, but this still left out younger kidney recipients. In 2000, Congress passed a law that gave lifelong immunosuppressive coverage to those over 65 or disabled. Instead, the law offered coverage of medications for just 36 months following a kidney transplant.
A patient with kidney disease has their dialysis treatments paid 100% by Medicare. Medicare will also pay for a kidney transplant. However, until the Immuno Bill passed, these kidney recipients only received immunosuppressive drug coverage for 36 months after transplant. If a recipient did not have alternative health insurance or did not otherwise qualify for Medicare, they lost their medication coverage.
The problem was obvious, as these medications are required for the transplant's life, and for the past two decades, the AST advocated to end the arbitrary 36-month limit and include lifelong coverage in this policy. While the bill has been introduced several times, it only passed in the House of Representatives one time in 2010 but failed to advance in the Senate.
In December 2019, the Immuno Bill was introduced in the House of Representatives. The bill passed the House on Tuesday, December 8, 2020. Before the bill's passage, it was marked-up and approved by the House Energy & Commerce Committee on July 15, 2020. During the mark-up, Congressman Burgess M.D. publicly thanked the American Society of Transplantation for the organization's many years of staying the course for patients and seeking to pass this critical legislation
We finally succeeded! Join Honor the Gift for a town hall event on February 25 at 1:00 pm CST to celebrate the most significant legislative victory for the kidney and transplant community in over ten years and learn what comes next for kidney transplant care in the 117th Congress. Featured speakers include members of Congress, experts in kidney transplant care, and other community leaders. Featured speakers will include Congress members, kidney transplant care experts and other community leaders dedicated to improving the lives of kidney transplant patients. Help us spread the word ahead of this exciting event—use the resources below to encourage your network to register and attend later this month!