Durbin Introduces Bill To Expand Coverage For Seniors' Kidney Transplant Drugs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), along with U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), introduced legislation to ensure that seniors who receive kidney transplants under the Medicare Part B program are able to access life-saving anti-rejection medications. U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Todd Young (R-IN) joined as cosponsors of the legislation.

“Our bill ensures that kidney transplant patients can afford the medication they need to survive and won’t have to skip or ration doses. Extending this coverage under Medicare is bipartisan and commonsense, and I urge my Senate colleagues to support this legislation,” said Durbin.

Transplant recipients require immunosuppressive drugs to keep the body from rejecting a new organ. Current law only covers Medicare Part B kidney transplant recipients for 36 months after a transplant occurs, meaning patients who lack other coverage after 36 months would have to cover the costs out of pocket. Many people ration their medications or stop taking their drugs and end up back in kidney failure and on dialysis. The Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act (S. 3353) would do away with that time limit ensuring that individuals who received a kidney transplant paid for by Medicare do not have to worry about coverage for medications and protect their transplant.

“Taking daily immunosuppressive drugs isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity.  But when transplant patients can’t afford their medication, they stop taking it, which puts their lives and their new kidney at risk,” said Kevin Longino, CEO, National Kidney Foundation and a kidney transplant patient.  “We applaud Senators Cassidy and Durbin and Congressmen Kind and Burgess for championing this common-sense legislation and look forward to working with Congress to enact this life-saving bill.”

Bill text for S. 3353 can be found here.