Kidney Care Partners' Statement on the Proposed Rule for Accountable Care Organizations

Mar 31, 2011, 14:30 ET from Kidney Care Partners

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kidney Care Partners, a broad-based coalition of patient advocates, dialysis professionals, care providers and manufacturers, applauded efforts today by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop accountable care organizations (ACOs). Kidney Care Partners also urged CMS to extend the promise of ACOs to the end-stage renal disease population by incentivizing and enhancing care coordination, thereby improving patient outcomes and reducing the overall cost of care.  

Accountable Care Organizations are groups of providers that accept joint responsibility for patient care. Kidney Care Partners has long supported expanding the concept of an ACO as an integrated care model for Medicare beneficiaries with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) in an effort to ensure equitable patient access to optimal quality kidney care throughout the continuum of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and ESRD.

While the population of patients suffering from kidney failure is small, they are vulnerable and costly to the health care system. More than 60 percent of Medicare beneficiaries with ESRD, who need dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive, also suffer from diabetes, hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. So while ESRD patients constitute just 1 percent of the Medicare population, they are responsible for 6.4 percent of Medicare expenditures.

Additionally, the needs of this population are unique and they often require specialized health care teams to manage each condition which can result in fragmented care. An ACO specific to kidney care would provide integrated care delivery for dialysis patients without affecting patients' coverage, benefits or choice of providers.  This type of integrated program would greatly benefit patients, care providers, the Medicare program and taxpayers.

Finally, while supporting innovation in the general delivery system can over time delay and reduce the progression of kidney disease, it cannot achieve the demonstrated reductions in costs and improvements in care for beneficiaries with kidney disease today that a renal-specific ACO can. For example, as part of CMS's recent ESRD disease management demonstration project, nephrologists and dialysis providers developed a suite of clinical interventions as part of a comprehensive integrated care program that not only improved patient outcomes but also reduced the overall cost of care for Medicare beneficiaries with ESRD. This kind of innovative approach can generate immediate results and form the basis of a successful ACO for one of Medicare's most vulnerable and costly patient populations.  

KCP strongly encourages CMS to allow for a specialized ACO for kidney care in its Final Rule.  

SOURCE Kidney Care Partners