National Coalition of Kidney and Transplant Organizations Successfully Advocate for the Protection of Kidney Transplant Recipients
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 21, 2020 – Honor the Gift, a national, patient-centered coalition dedicated to improving the lives of kidney transplant patients and honoring the gift of their donors, today celebrates the passage of the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2019 (H.R. 5534 / S. 3353).
This critical legislation, known to many in the community as the Immuno Bill, marks an important milestone in the history of American kidney care. For more than twenty years, patients, donors and their supporters have advocated for the extension of Medicare part B coverage of immunosuppressive medications for kidney transplant recipients. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Honor the Gift coalition and the entire kidney, donation and transplant community, Congress has finally taken action to honor the gift.
“Today marks the fulfillment of a promise that Congress made to kidney transplant recipients back in 1973,” said Monica Fox, a kidney transplant recipient and manager of outreach and government relations at the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois. “As a recipient myself, finally having access to guaranteed coverage of life-saving, anti-rejection medications is a weight lifted off our shoulders and will help a lot of families breathe a little easier when balancing their checkbooks at the end of each month.”
With over 120 cosponsors in the House of Representative and 25 in the Senate, the Immuno Bill was passed with bipartisan, bicameral support. Aiding its passage was an analysis done by the Congressional Budget Office estimating the bill will result in over $400M in savings to Medicare. This critical policy is common sense, saves lives, and will result in significant savings to Medicare and the American people.
“Through the passage of this bill, Congress has taken a significant step to improve the quality of life of kidney transplant patients and recognize the invaluable gift of kidney donation,” said Jim Gleason, president of Transplant Recipients International Organization (TRIO), a member organization of the Honor the Gift coalition. “No kidney transplant patient should be forced to make the difficult choice between putting food on their family’s table or paying for their immunosuppressive medications. Now thanks to the work of this coalition, they won’t have to.”
Since its launch in March 2019, the Honor the Gift Coalition has successfully activated more than 10,000 kidney, donation, and transplant advocates who collectively sent over 9,400 letters to their elected officials demanding action. The coalition’s advocacy also generated a number of support letters signed by nearly 200 of the country’s leading clinicians, as well as 25 members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Powered by members of the Honor the Gift coalition—32 of the nation’s leading kidney and transplant organizations including the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, Donate Life America, and the National Kidney Foundation—and supported by the efforts of longtime congressional champions such as Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Il), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Rep. Ron Kind (R-WI) and Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-TX), the Immuno Bill has been sent to the President’s desk and is expected to be signed into law before the end of the year.
“The success of this legislation is a testament to the passion and dedication of the entire transplant village. Congratulations to the Honor the Gift coalition and its partner organizations—we’ve enjoyed working together to advocate for the passage of this much-needed legislation and we look forward to working with you on other kidney and transplant care issues in the future,” said Peter Maag, the Executive Chairman of CareDx, the corporate sponsor for the Honor the Gift coalition.
Learn more about Honor the Gifts’ efforts to extend Medicare coverage of immunosuppressive medications for kidney transplant patients at HonorTheGift.org.
About Honor the Gift
Honor the Gift is a national patient-centered campaign focused on extending Medicare coverage of immunosuppressive medication for kidney transplant recipients beyond the current three-year limit. The campaign is powered by a coalition of stakeholder groups from around the country dedicated to protecting kidney transplant patients and honoring the gift of kidney donation by providing civic engagement tools and resources. For more information, visit HonorTheGift.org.