Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar this week highlighted the agency’s goals for promoting prevention, value-based care and transplant opportunities for beneficiaries with kidney disease. “Today, Medicare covers most patients with kidney failure,” Azar said in remarks to the National Kidney Foundation. “But we don’t begin spending a great deal on these patients until they’re already sick. It is the epitome of a system that pays for sickness rather than health, and this administration is intent on shifting those priorities.” Noting that 88 percent of Americans with end-stage renal disease start treatment with center-based dialysis rather than at home with hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis, he said, “Improving this situation dramatically, as we ought to do, will mean examining the payment incentives in our programs today, while expanding access to new technologies.” Azar said the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Innovation Center “is now looking hard at new models for patients not just with ESRD, but also stage 4 and 5 kidney disease.” He said the agency also is looking to incentivize dialysis providers “to get patients off dialysis through transplants.”

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