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BMC Health Serv Res. 2012 Aug 16;12:254. doi: 10.1186/1472-6963-12-254.

Medicare immunosuppressant coverage and access to kidney transplantation: a retrospective national cohort study.

Author information

1
Division of Nephrology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco, CA, USA. grubbsv@medsfgh.ucsf.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In December 2000, Medicare eliminated time limitations in immunosuppressant coverage after kidney transplant for beneficiaries age ≥65 and those who were disabled. This change did not apply to younger non-disabled beneficiaries who qualified for Medicare only because of their end-stage renal disease (ESRD). We sought to examine access to waitlisting for kidney transplantation in a cohort spanning this policy change.

METHODS:

This was a retrospective cohort analysis of 241,150 Medicare beneficiaries in the United States Renal Data System who initiated chronic dialysis between 1/1/96 and 11/30/03. We fit interrupted time series Cox proportional hazard models to compare access to kidney transplant waitlist within 12 months of initiating chronic dialysis by age/disability status, accounting for secular trends.

RESULTS:

Beneficiaries age <65 who were not disabled were less likely to be waitlisted after the policy change (hazard ratio (HR) for the later vs. earlier period, 0.93, p = 0.002), after adjusting for sociodemographic factors, co-morbid conditions, income, and ESRD network. There was no evidence of secular trend in this group (HR per year, 1.00, p = 0.989). Likelihood of being waitlisted among those age ≥65 or disabled increased steadily throughout the study period (HR per year, 1.04, p < 0.001), but was not clearly affected by the policy change (HR for the immediate effect of policy change, 0.93, p = 0.135).

CONCLUSIONS:

The most recent extension in Medicare immunosuppressant coverage appears to have had little impact on the already increasing access to waitlisting among ≥65/ disabled beneficiaries eligible for the benefit but may have decreased access for younger, non-disabled beneficiaries who were not. The potential ramifications of policies on candidacy appeal for access to kidney transplantation should be considered.

PMID:
22894737
PMCID:
PMC3470983
DOI:
10.1186/1472-6963-12-254
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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