Patients speak out on plan to reduce Medicare reimbursement for - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Patients speak out on plan to reduce Medicare reimbursement for dialysis

(Source: MGN Online) (Source: MGN Online)
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

There's a plan to reduce Medicare reimbursement for kidney dialysis treatments.

Those cuts could jeopardize the availability of care.

About 85 people go to Davita each week to undergo life-saving dialysis.    

But a proposed decrease in how much Medicare will pay providers like Davita could jeopardize that care.

Several patients gathered to meet with Congressman Dr. Charles Boustany. They are afraid of what will happen if Medicare payments to Davita are reduced.

Patsy James, dialysis patient, said, "Where are the people supposed to go? And then those who already have to get medical transportation, to get there. How are they going to get transportation because Medicare and Medicaid don't even much want to pay them to go to Iowa and pick up somebody? So, this would be a very, very huge problem."

"It's a must. It's a must for us. Without it, we're doing to die. So, this is a very serious problem," said Beverly Jacob, patient.

As a heart surgeon, Boustany well knows the serious nature of kidney failure and the need for dialysis.

"It can be very life threatening. Even with dialysis, it can be very tricky. If you don't have dialysis treatment with kidney failure, your time is marked," Boustany said.

Boustany is fighting Medicare bureaucracy, hoping to prevent the reduction.

"I signed a letter along with other members of Congress weighing in on this saying, 'Look. This is going to cause a problem. Don't do it.' And I think others are weighing in on it as well. We're hopeful the Medicare administrators will not do this because it will cause problems here," he said.

Debbie Wolfe with Davita said less reimbursement will force them to cut services.

"Currently, at 35 percent of our facilities across the nation, the Medicare rate reimbursed today does not cover the cost of the care. So, any cut on top of that would be drastic and create significant problems and issues with our ability to continue care as we are today," she said.

Wolfe said cuts tend to hurt smaller, rural facilities used by fewer people.

For more information from Davita, click HERE.

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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