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CTnow

Medicare cuts for dialysis would be disastrous for people with kidney disease

2:15 PM EDT, July 23, 2013

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing a 10 percent cut to the Medicare payment for dialysis — a proposed reduction that is ill-advised, to say the least ("Medicare cuts hit dialysis hard," July 15).

Dangerous would be a far better term. Dialysis providers faced with this eventuality will of necessity have to cut back. Each cutback will result in a reduction of quality care.

I am living with kidney failure. Dialysis has been my life-saving therapy for more than 13 years. Dialysis therapy has allowed me to witness graduations, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, the birth of three grandchildren and other family events. More importantly, Dialysis gave my six children a father to love them, advise them, share in their successes — and yes, pick them up when they stumbled instead of having them witness my funeral at age 43.

Three times each week I am stuck with needles so large they would make any person cringe. I require the individual who sticks me to be the best trained technician available and have the requisite time to perform the procedure properly and safely. I can't help but think of the numerous ways insufficient compensation will affect my care. Training, lab work, medications administered during treatment, water treatment plants, facility upkeep as well as overworked doctors, nurses and patient care technicians. The list goes on and on.

Without adequate funds, providers will cut back in many vital areas, contributing to an inevitable reduction in the quality of care to a patient population heavily skewed toward minorities and lower-income families. These are often families with the least ability to supplement treatment with their own funds. Many patients have other conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, that put them at even higher risk.

I entreat readers to learn more about this issue today. Please contact our elected officials and tell them you support vulnerable kidney failure patients like myself and the necessary funding for dialysis care we need to survive.

Myron (Mayer) Zayon