Extending Medicare coverage of transplant drugs would benefit patients, reduce healthcare costs

Extending Medicare coverage of transplant medications would benefit patients and reduce healthcare costs. The findings come from a study that will be presented at ASN Kidney Week 2019 November 5–November 10 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.

Currently, Medicare provides insurance coverage for anti-rejection medications for only 36 months for all patients who have undergone kidney transplantation. Therefore, unless a patient has another reason to be eligible for Medicare insurance, they will be left without coverage after 3 years.

This may lead to patients not being able to afford medications and to subsequent rejection of transplants.

Matthew Kadatz, MD (University of British Columbia) and his colleagues evaluated the costs and effectiveness of extending Medicare coverage of anti-rejection medications to the lifetime of a kidney transplant recipient, assuming this would result in a reduction in transplant rejection and subsequent transplant failure.

In the team's model, the extension of Medicare coverage of anti-rejection medication led to lower costs and an improvement in quality of life for patients who received a kidney transplant.

This study shows that extending immunosuppression coverage would likely be cost-saving to Medicare assuming it reduces the risk of transplant failure. ​This supports legislation currently being proposed to Congress to extend Medicare coverage of anti-rejection medications for kidney transplant recipients,"

Further study is needed to evaluate how much benefit is truly obtained from extended anti-rejection coverage if this policy change is implemented."

Matthew Kadatz, MD

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