A kidney punch to Congressional ethics

From GoozNews via The Health Care Blog:

…Last week, I learned that the [children’s health insurance] bill contains another unheralded earmark, also unrelated to children’s health. This one, too, funnels hundreds of millions of dollars to special interests … given the Orwellian name “Quality Incentive Payments in the End Stage Renal Disease Program,” [it] will subject hundreds of thousands of Americans on dialysis to unnecessary risk, and will in all likelihood lead to premature deaths.

The legislation earmarks up to $300 million over the next three years for clinics that achieve certain quality benchmarks while treating the more than 300,000 Americans with failed or failing kidneys who receive dialysis through Medicare’s End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) program. Chief among those benchmarks is correction of the anemia associated with failing kidneys … The measure gives clinics a powerful incentive to continue using large quantities of one company’s drug, Amgen’s Epogen, which stimulates red blood cell production.

The House passed the bill even though the Food and Drug Administration recently issued a black box warning cautioning against overuse and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services rewrote its reimbursement guidelines to limit payments for overuse of the drug….

This is a great example of what public health has come to in America. How could this happen with our upstanding representatives looking out for us?

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