Passage of the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act—a Chance to Celebrate and Reflect

Journal of the American Society of Nephrology

Published: March, 2021

John S. Gill, Richard N. Formica and Barbara Murphy

Beginning in 2023, the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act (H.R. 5534; also known as the Immuno bill) in the United States, will add a new Medicare option solely to cover immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplant recipients. Patients may enroll beginning 36 months after a transplant if they have no other health insurance and are otherwise ineligible for Medicare. Enrollees will pay a monthly premium equal to 35% of standard immunosuppressive drug costs currently estimated to be $243/mo. For prevalent kidney transplant recipients who have lost or will lose Medicare benefits due to the 3-year post-transplant time limit on coverage in the Medicare ESKD program, the bill will provide access to essential drugs to prevent allograft rejection for the life of their transplant. An analysis by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimated that the Immuno bill will prevent approximately 375 allograft failures annually, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects Medicare savings of $400 million over 10 years. Legislation proposing extension of immunosuppressive drug coverage have been introduced in Congress for the past two decades, and the passage of the Immuno bill represents a huge victory for current and future transplant recipients. The entire kidney community is indebted to the primary bill sponsors Senator Bill Cassidy, MD (Republican LA); Senator Dick Durbin (Democrat IL); Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (Republican TX); and Rep. Ron Kind (Democrat WI) and the many House and Senate members for their enduring support.

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