3/14+ Patient Safety Week

National Patient Safety Awareness Week (PSAW) is March 14-20, 2021. Some useful resource collections:

  • The ESRD 5-Diamond Patient Safety Program, assisting dialysis facilities to improve both staff and patient awareness of specific patient safety areas, promoting patient safety values, and building a culture of patient safety in every dialysis facility, https://5diamondpatientsafety.org/Home.aspx. The Program includes a COVID-19 Module.

HDC and CMS re Health Insurance

MEI’s Home Dialysis Central has published a blog post on Medicare Advantage Plan Pros & Cons – and a Fix for Buyers’ Remorse. The post includes a comparison of costs between Medicare Advantage (“MA”) and “Original Medicare,” types of MA plans, advantages and disadvantages of MA plans, and a discussion of how Medigap interacts with each. Find the post at https://homedialysis.org/news-and-research/blog/415-medicare-advantage-plan-pros-&-cons-and-a-fix-for-buyer-remorse.

CMS has also recently added an email bulletin on What Partners Need to Know Now about Health Insurance Coverage during the Pandemic. For basic information the bulletin recommends the CMS COVID-19 Partner Resources page at https://www.cms.gov/outreach-education/partner-resources/coronavirus-covid-19-partner-resources and the HHS COVID Education Campaign page at https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/education-campaign/index.html. It also recommends CDC’s new Community-Based Organizations COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/toolkits/community-organization.html, the February 15 to May 15, 2021 Special Enrollment Period for individuals and families to enroll in the health insurance coverage they need (see https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/2021-special-enrollment-period-response-covid-19-emergency), and the CMS Roadmaps to Better Care in up to nine different languages at https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/OMH/equity-initiatives/c2c/consumerresources/roadmap-to-better-care.

1/7 ASN+ Webinar on Vaccine Safety in ESRD

ASN, AAKP, AKF, ANNA, CDC, NANT, NKF, RPA, and the Renal Healthcare Association (formerly the NRAA) are collaborating to sponsor a January 7, 2021 webinar on Safety and Efficacy of COVID-19 Vaccines in the Dialysis Population. Webinar topics will include available information about the safety and efficacy of the current COVID-19 vaccines for health care workers and patients with CKD, the risk of poor outcomes in those contracting COVID-19, the position of the sponsors on urging dialysis patients to get vaccinated, possible concerns about receiving the vaccine, approaches to discussing and defusing those concerns, and a strategy to share the provided information widely. Find more information and register at https://goto.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1416384&tp_key=2914871054.

12/15 NCC COVID-19 December Calls

Patient Webinar

The ESRD Network Coordinating Center will host a December 15, 2021 webinar for patients on Home Dialysis During COVID: Lessons Learned. Topics will include best practices, patient experiences, and patient benefits of dialyzing at home. For details and registration see https://esrdncc.org/en/covid-19/covid-webinars/.

Provider Webinar

The ESRD Network Coordinating Center will host a December 30, 2021 webinar for providers on The Importance of Kidney Transplant and Referral Process During COVID-19. Topics will include the benefits of getting patients on the waitlist, the impact that COVID-19 has had on the referral process, and how a transplant center educates patients during the pandemic. One CEU credit will be available. For details and registration see https://esrdncc.org/en/covid-19/covid-webinars/.

11/18 AAKP HealthLine on Lupus

AAKP will present an 18 November 2020 HealthLine webinar on Bringing Lupus Nephritis out of the Shadows. Register at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/5772024139670617614 and find more information about AAKP HealthLine, including recordings of past events, at https://aakp.org/programs-and-events/aakp-healthline/.

RSN on Medicare Advantage

The Renal Support Network has published an excellent blog post titled Original Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage Plans: How Do I Decide? The post compares “plain vanilla” Medicare to Medicare Advantage (“MA” or sometimes, informally, “Medicare Part C”). Ongoing kidney patients will be eligible for MA plans in 2021 for the first time, and Medicare beneficiaries can switch plans until December 7, 2020. There are pros and cons to both, and each MA plan is unique, so kidney patients should huddle with their insurance advisors and their social worker to make sure that they enroll in the plan which best suits their individual situation. While MA plans can provide additional benefits, they are tied to specific provider groups (or “networks” – not to be confused with the ESRD Networks), and since they may provide very different advantages and disadvantages in different places, they must be evaluated individually.

The RSN blog post provides an excellent overview of the pros and cons of each type of plan, but can’t consider each plan in each location. That evaluation must be tailored to each specific patient and each specific place. The RSN post includes a series of questions that each patient should be asking themselves and their advisors. Find the post at https://www.rsnhope.org/health-library/original-medicare-vs-medicare-advantage-plans-how-do-i-decide/.

CDC #FightFlu Campaign

CDC reports that the best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get vaccinated every year, and has begun a campaign to encourage everyone to get the flu vaccine, especially those with weakened immune systems like CKD patients, who have an increased risk of severe illness from the flu, even without considering COVID-19 – which you can get along with the flu. Find campaign resources like the animation below, in English and Spanish, at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/freeresources/graphics/animated-fight-flu-punch.htm .

HDC: Insurance 101 for Social Workers

MEI’s Home Dialysis Central blog has published a post on Insurance 101 for Dialysis Social Workers.  The objective is to help assure that people with Chronic Kidney Failure avoid inaccurate advice that can be very costly.  The complexity is remarkable – even insurance experts should review the article for anything they may have overlooked.  Find the post at https://homedialysis.org/news-and-research/blog/367-insurance-101-for-dialysis-social-workers.  It may be particularly useful as we approach the 2020 Medicare Open Enrollment Period.

Just a few examples:

  • You must have paid Social Security taxes for a specific length of time to be eligible for Medicare to cover treatment for chronic kidney failure.
  • Medicare coverage starts in month 4 for in-center dialysis, but starts in month 1 for home dialysis.
  • Medicare part A is free, but it’s Part B that pays for dialysis, and it’s not free.
  • If you don’t sign up for Medicare Part B or D when you’re first eligible for part A, you’ll pay a lot more for them.
  • A few of the terms and acronyms that complicate matters: work credits, Medicare Advantage, Medigap, Medicaid, Medi-Cal, primary payer, Medicare assignment, MA, QMD, SLMB, COBRA, QHP, ACA.

10/6+ NKF Webinar on Flu & COVID-19

NKF will present an October 6, 2020 webinar on Flu & COVID-19 – how to tell them apart, whether you can have both at the same time, increased risk of serious illness with CKD, how to protect yourself, and Q&A.  Find details at https://www.kidney.org/content/flu-covid-19-webinar-facebook-live, and register at https://kidney.secure.force.com/rc_connect__campaign_designform?id=7013a000002DtitAAC&form=00P3a00001XCi6zEAD&.  NKF also has a Q&A-format web page on Flu & COVID-19.  Find it at https://www.kidney.org/coronavirus/flu-covid-19.

Resources for [Medicare-Medicaid] Integrated Care will also present an October 13, 2020 webinar on Promising Practices for Promoting Flu Vaccinations for Dually Eligible Beneficiaries During COVID-19.  Dually-eligible patients are those who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid, who may be even more vulnerable to serious illness from flu and COVID-19.  Find details and register at https://www.resourcesforintegratedcare.com/2020_Webinar/Promoting_Flu_Vaccinations_During_COVID-19.