UPDATE: SIGNIFICANT CONGRESSIONAL PROGRESS ON IMMUNOSUPPRESSION CATCH-22

Progress in Congress is exciting. Slow progress is better than none. The awful immunosuppressive drug Catch-22 that limits Medicare coverage of the anti-rejection drugs for renal transplant recipients to (80%) for 36 months, jeopardizing both the kidneys and patients if they can’t afford the medications and resulting in a return to expensive dialysis – which is again supported by Medicare, has been approached with new bi-partisan legislation in Congress. Since my blog post of March 7, 2013 the mate bill to Senate Bill S323, HR 1428 has been introduced by Representative Burgess (R-TX ) on April 9, 2013 and was sent to both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Health Sub-Committee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Multiple new sponsors have “signed on” to each of the two bills currently sitting in their respective House and Senate committees. In congressional/political language this is highly significant progress.

New supporters of Senator Durbin’s Senate Bill S323 include Udall (D-NM), Wicker (R-MS), Gillibrand (D-NY) and Whitehouse (D-RI). This brings the number of co-sponsors to 9, and the percentage of senators clearly supporting the bill to 10%.

HR 1428, the House version of the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage Act for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2013 now has a total of 45 co-sponsors. Newest supporters include Johnson (R-OH), Latham (R-IA), Lofgren (D-CA), Posey (R-FL), Roby (R-AL), Tierney (D-MA), Schock (R-IL), Smith (D-WA), Levin (D-MI), Payne (D-NJ), Gosar (R-AZ), Lipinski (D-IL), Moore (D-WI), Braley (D-IA), Ellison (D-MI), Schwartz (D-PA), Bonner (R-AL), Connolly (D-VA), Hurt (R-VA), Lowey (D-NY), Courtney (D-CT), Pingree (D-ME), Owens (D-NY). Together with Burgess, the original sponsor, that makes 46/435, 11% of representatives clearly supporting the bill in the House.

As stakeholders and constituents who are eager to support this bill (to change the Catch-22 and save these kidneys and patients) our action steps are to make our voices heard. Phone calls and/or e-mails to our own politicians WILL be noticed if they come in sufficient numbers. Constituents’ opinions do matter to politicians. Follow the steps outlined here to be heard. I can report e-mailing my own representative, Dan Maffei (D-NY) but receiving no response. To coordinate with the posting of this blog, I will reach out to him again. Let us know in the Comments section of this blog what your experience is!

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