Medicare’s Chief MD Comments On Dialysis InvestigationNPR: A yearlong investigation by The Atlantic and ProPublica revealed that "[t]he cost of treatment is among the world's highest, while the U.S. mortality rate for dialysis patients is one of the world's worst: One in four patients will die within 12 months of starting treatment." The investigation also uncovered "striking problems in some dialysis facilities, including "unsanitary conditions, high rates of patient infections and few official inspections from Medicare, which offers comprehensive coverage to kidney failure patients in the U.S. and is supposed to inspect dialysis facilities once every three years."
Dr. Barry Straube, director and chief medical officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, responded to the findings by saying that CMS "has not been able to perform as many surveys and therefore perform that type of oversight as well as it might like to have." He added that "[w]e are hindered by funding that comes from Congress in order to perform regulatory oversight visits for all of the 17 different provider sites that CMS is charged with regulating." Straube also noted that the investigation "points to important issues" but "overstates the degree of problems with dialysis centers in the real world," adding that Medicare's 40-year dialysis experiment was necessary and will likely "influence new debates on health reform" (11/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.