Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

July 19, 2013

July 19, 2013: Letters to the editor

Gov’t must not cut disease benefit

I am one of 400,000 Americans with irreversible kidney failure. I am a dialysis patient in Crown Point, where many of my clinic mates are in the group of the 85 percent of patients with kidney failure who rely on Medicare’s end stage renal disease (ESRD) benefit for life-sustaining dialysis care.

As a citizen of Northwest Indiana and a person who relies on dialysis to stay alive, I am writing to express my concern over the recent proposal from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that would cut Medicare’s end-stage renal disease benefit by 9.4 percent and the potential effects that cut would have on my dialysis care. Specifically, I am writing to urge you to intervene with CMS to ensure this “proposed rule” — when it does become law — is reasonable and protects my access to quality care.

I am most concerned that additional deep cuts by CMS could affect my access to dialysis treatments. Cuts could also affect my ability to receive the appropriate type of treatment that works best for me. Limiting choice and availability of treatment options will not only inconvenience me, but may also affect my ability to be employed, stay out of the hospital, and live an active life.

Further, I am concerned my access will be reduced to crucial staff such as nurses, social workers and dietitians. Finally, if local facilities close or consolidate as a result of Medicare cutbacks that are too deep, my fellow patients and I will undoubtedly feel the effect.

These cuts threaten to close smaller rural clinics, and this would undoubtedly affect my clinic in Crown Point. We take dialysis three times a week for four hours a day, so having a clinic that is close to home is imperative. Please remember we have no choice; you submit to dialysis or you die.

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