for Advocacy Role in the Passage of U.S. Congressional Legislation to Extend Medication Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients
Two decades of advocacy will save more lives by ensuring thousands of transplant patients now have access to critical anti-rejection medications
NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – For nearly 20 years, NJ Sharing Network, the non-profit, federally designated organ procurement organization responsible for the recovery of organs and tissue in the state, had been tirelessly advocating to urge the U.S. Congress to pass the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act (S. 3353 and H.R. 5534).
On December 28, 2020, those dedicated efforts finally materialized as the “Immuno Bill” was officially passed by the 116th Congress. The new law allows kidney transplant recipients to maintain Medicare Part B coverage for immunosuppressive medications beyond the previous three-year limit, extending coverage for the lifetime of the transplanted kidney.
To acknowledge these efforts during National Kidney Month, NJ Sharing Network recently received an award of recognition from Honor the Gift, a national patient-centered campaign powered by a coalition of stakeholder groups from around the country dedicated to protecting kidney transplant patients and honoring the gift of kidney donation.
Joseph S. Roth, president and CEO of NJ Sharing Network, accepted the Honor the Gift award on behalf of NJ Sharing Network. For nearly two decades, Roth was highly-visible in pushing for this monumental change by working with legislators in New Jersey and throughout the nation to raise awareness of the need to improve patients’ access to immunosuppressive medications in order to help recipients maintain their transplants and avoid future kidney-related health care complications.
“This critical legislation marks an important milestone in the history of American kidney care,” said Roth. “A kidney transplant is an investment that can make the difference between living and dying. The new law will help protect this investment - honoring the donor who offers the life-changing gift and improving the lives of kidney recipients who now have access to guaranteed coverage of life-saving, anti-rejection medications. It is a heavy burden finally lifted off their shoulders.
Roth also express gratitude to Honor the Gift for recognizing NJ Sharing Network’s local donation and transplant community. “We are forever thankful for our transplant and healthcare partners, donor families, patients, volunteers and supporters who always stayed committed by encouraging everyone in our communities to participate in our grassroots campaign to help with this passage of this legislation. Thanks to their collaborative efforts, Congress has finally taken action to honor the gift.”
Medicare covers dialysis for most Americans, regardless of age, with no time limit. However, prior to the passage of the Immuno Bill, individuals under the age of 65 or not Medicare-disabled (receiving Social Security disability income), would have their coverage eligibility for immunosuppressive medications end 36 months after receiving a transplant. Many recipients were unable to afford these medications after the 36-month limit. This would often lead to rejection of the transplanted kidney and the need to return to dialysis or the lengthy kidney transplant wait list, according to the American Society of Transplantation (AST). In New Jersey, the average time on the waiting list for a kidney transplant is approximately 5 to 7 years.
Joseph S. Roth, president and CEO of NJ Sharing Network, accepted the Honor the Gift award.
About NJ Sharing NetworkNJ Sharing Network is the federally designated non-profit organization responsible for recovering organs and tissue for the nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents currently waiting for a life-saving transplant. With headquarters in New Providence, NJ, the organization is part of the national recovery system, serving the 110,000 people on the national waiting list. NJ Sharing Network was selected by NJBiz as one of the state’s “Best Places to Work” for the third consecutive year. To learn more, get involved and register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org.