I provide dialysis care for 80 patients at DaVita Embassy Lakes Dialysis Center — patients who are living with kidney failure and wouldn’t survive without dialysis treatments three times a week that cleanse their blood of deadly toxins since their kidneys cannot. Unfortunately for these patients and others in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area, some dialysis facilities might soon be forced to close their doors.
While the fiscal cliff discussions in Washington may seem far away, the planned cuts to programs like Medicare will actually hit closer to home than you might think. These cuts will make it nearly impossible for caregivers, like me, to continue providing dialysis care and the other supportive therapies that keep these patients alive. In addition to the blood-filtering dialysis, Medicare pays for nursing care, medications, lab work and nutritional support. They do this for an incredibly small reimbursement payment from Medicare.
Dialysis patients and providers have already endured a recent restructuring of the Medicare payment system, and we’re still adjusting to that new system. If the sequestration cut planned for January becomes a reality and facilities are forced to close their doors, our patients may be faced not only with the challenge of maintaining a demanding regimen of care, but also a new challenge of where to go for that care. Some will have to travel longer distances, others who may not be able might turn to hospital emergency rooms for their care — costing Medicare even more. And, finally, some may choose to forego their lifesaving care altogether.
In 1972 Congress committed to providing dialysis for all, and our lawmakers today must maintain that commitment to this vulnerable patient population, and refrain from cutting or restructuring the vital kidney care services Medicare provides. I encourage your readers to contact Sen. Bill Nelson and Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz and express concern for patients in Miami who rely on Medicare for their dialysis care. Their lives depend on it.
Matthew A. Grey, facility administrator, DaVita Embassy Lakes Dialysis, Cooper City