Letter: Medicare cuts hurt patients

New Medicare cuts recently announced by the federal government will drastically reduce funding for dialysis care for kidney failure patients across the country and here in Louisiana. Specifically, these cuts will reduce Medicare payments for these life-sustaining treatments by 12 percent, or $30 per dialysis treatment.

As a group facility administrator and registered nurse at East Baton Rouge Dialysis Center, I was pleased to welcome — along with our care-giving team and many patients — a staff member of Sen. David Vitter. She graciously took time to visit our facility last week to learn more about the quality kidney care provided in our community and the lives of the 80 patients we care for every day.

Dialysis is a lifeline for our patients, most of whom rely on Medicare’s dialysis benefit to pay for their dialysis treatment sessions, medications, and additional services. Unfortunately, Medicare already falls short of covering the full cost of patients’ treatments, and this new cut will further strip scarce resources out of the nation’s dialysis program.

The new cuts, will negatively impact patient access and quality of dialysis care. These cuts may force many providers to make difficult decisions to reduce operating hours or staffing levels — or even close their facility — making access to quality dialysis care increasingly difficult. This is especially true in rural and urban areas.

We look forward to working with Sen. Vitter to make sure these harmful cuts are prevented so that we might preserve access and quality for our patients.

Kristine Barr

group facility administrator, East Baton Rouge DaVita

Baton Rouge