American Kidney Fund Launches Medicare Part D Grant Program for Prescription Bone Disease Medications

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Program will help dialysis patients with 'donut hole' and other costs.

Bone disease is just one of the co-morbid conditions associated with kidney disease. These other conditions, which include cardiovascular disease and anemia, require medications that can be very expensive. Kidney failure imposes a great economic hardship on many people, and through our programs, we are working to ease that burden.

The American Kidney Fund (AKF), http://www.kidneyfund.org, the nation's #1 source of financial assistance to kidney patients, announced today that it is initiating a new program to help qualified dialysis patients pay for prescription bone disease medications under Medicare Part D.

Under the program, eligible patients may receive up to $2,000 per year in prescription assistance for bone disease medications. Most significantly, the program will help qualified dialysis patients with coverage gap ("donut hole") costs. For patients who are not currently in the "donut hole" phase of Part D, the grants can be applied to the patient share of the cost to obtain bone disease medications.

This program covers common bone disease medications, including Fosrenol®, Hectorol®, Phoslo®, Renagel®, Sensipar® and Zemplar®.

"We are extremely pleased that we are able to help dialysis patients with an urgent financial need that has arisen under Medicare Part D," said LaVarne A. Burton, Chief Executive Officer of the American Kidney Fund. "Because they take so many prescription medications, many dialysis patients have fallen into the Part D 'donut hole' coverage gap, under which they must bear the full cost of their medications until they reach a certain out-of-pocket spending level. This program will provide urgently needed assistance to eligible patients who are in that situation--as well as to patients who are in the other phases of Part D coverage."

The kidneys are essential to healthy bones because the kidneys regulate levels of calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus in the blood. Bone disease, which can cause bone pain and fractures, is common in people whose kidneys have failed.

"In the future, we hope to be able to introduce additional programs that will assist dialysis patients with paying for other types of medications under Medicare Part D," Burton said. "Bone disease is just one of the co-morbid conditions associated with kidney disease. These other conditions, which include cardiovascular disease and anemia, require medications that can be very expensive. Kidney failure imposes a great economic hardship on many people, and through our programs, we are working to ease that burden."

The Part D Grant Program is the American Kidney Fund's newest effort to help patients with the high costs of treating kidney disease. In partnership with the nation's dialysis providers, AKF offers a Health Insurance Premium Program that helps dialysis patients maintain their health insurance coverage. The organization offers numerous grant programs to assist with out-of-pocket costs, such as the cost of transportation to dialysis and the cost of over-the-counter medicines.

Last year, AKF provided $81.9 million in grant assistance to 63,500 people, nearly one-fifth of the nation's dialysis patients. All AKF grant programs are subject to strict eligibility guidelines. AKF provides assistance to people who have exhausted every other means of aid.

AKF also maintains a robust program of kidney disease education and prevention. In the past three years, AKF has provided free kidney health screenings to nearly 11,000 people in Atlanta, Chicago and Washington, D.C.--three cities with very high rates of kidney failure. The organization runs public awareness campaigns and offers a brochure series and toll-free HelpLine (866-300-2900) to promote public understanding of kidney disease.

Details on the AKF Part D grant program, including eligibility guidelines, can be found at http://www.kidneyfund.org. Patients who are interested in applying for assistance should contact the social workers at their dialysis centers for details. To receive an application in the mail, call the AKF Patient Services department at 1-800-638-8299.

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Tamara Ruggiero
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