3/23 OPTN Public Comment Requested

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network has requested public comment on issues under consideration for revision, including reviewing the 2021-2024 OPTN Strategic Plan, clarifying the Multi-Organ Allocation Policy, modifying the Deceased Donor Registration (DDR) Form, requiring notification of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing changes, revising general considerations in assessment for transplant candidacy, and updating Transplant Program key kersonnel training and experience requirements. Find details and commenting instructions at https://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/news/public-comment-open-from-jan-21-through-mar-23-2021/.

2/17 NKF Webinar on Lifetime Immunosuppression Coverage

The National Forum of ESRD Networks will host a webinar for Forum members and Network staff on Lifetime Immunosuppression Coverage: An Overview by the NKF Government Relations & Policy Teams at 11am PST on February 17, 2021. The webinar will be recorded and available for general viewing following the live event. Lifetime immunosuppression coverage for kidney transplant patients over 65 years old was included in the December 2020 COVID Relief Package. Register at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/5905847900925197835.

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/.

11/23+ OPTN Organ Allocation Changes

The OPTN Kidney and Pancreas Transplantation Committees will host a November 23, 2020 webinar on Information for Transplant Candidates about Upcoming Changes to Kidney and Pancreas Policies. These changes are intended to create more consistent access to kidney, pancreas, and kidney-pancreas transplants. The new policies include updates to the definition of medical urgency, and changes to the allocation of organs and prioritization of candidates, which will be based on distance rather than regions. Organs from Alaska will be allocated based on distance from Seattle.

The new policies will take effect December 15, 2020, and transplant centers can revise their candidate urgency information to take advantage of the new policies starting December 1. Find details about the changes at https://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/news/pre-implementation-notice-removal-of-dsa-and-region-from-kidney-and-pancreas-allocation-to-go-into-effect-dec-15/ and register for the webinar at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/2542491307617944591.

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.

10/22 HHS Rule to Facilitate Living Donation

The HHS Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has published a Final Rule on Removing Financial Disincentives to Living Organ Donation, effective October 22, 2020.  The Rule aims to reimburse organ donors more appropriately.  Find the Rule in the Federal Register at https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-09-22/pdf/2020-20804.pdf.  Find a discussion of public comments on the Rule and HRSA response at https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-09-22/pdf/2020-20805.pdf.

CMS Publishes ETC Payment Model

CMS has released information about the long-awaited ESRD Treatment Choices (ETC) Model, which “aims to test whether greater use of home dialysis and kidney transplantation for Medicare beneficiaries with ESRD will reduce Medicare expenditures, while preserving or enhancing the quality of care furnished to beneficiaries with ESRD.”  The newly published information includes:

9/22+ NCC COVID-19 Webinars

The ESRD Network Coordinating Center will present two webinars in their COVID-19 series:

  • September 30, 2020 webinar for providers on Organ Donation – Impacts of COVID-19.  One CEU is available.

For details and registration, and recordings of earlier NCC COVID-19 webinars and “quickinars,” see https://esrdncc.org/en/covid-19/covid-webinars/.

HRSA Webinars on Minority Organ Donation

The HHS Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Office of Regional Operations will present a webinar in English and Spanish to recognize Minority Donor Awareness Month (see https://www.hrsa.gov/enews/past-issues/2020/august-6/national-minority-donor-awareness-month and https://www.giftofhope.org/nmdam-2020/).  The focus this year is on the Latinx community.  Both versions are free to attend, but prior registration is required.  All who register will receive a link to a recording of the webinar.

For more information, contact HRSAORORegion7@hrsa.gov.

7/21+ NCC Weekly COVID-19 Webinars

The ESRD National Coordinating Center will present two COVID-19 “Quickinars” this week:

  • July 21, 2020 for patients on COVID-19 Information Overload?  Tips for Keeping Your Head Above Water.
  • July 22 for providers on Making Kidney Transplantation Possible During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Both half-hour sessions begin at 2pm PDT.  Find more information and register at https://esrdncc.org/en/covid-19/covid-quickinars/.