Dialysis patients worried propsal could put lives in danger

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

Phyllis LeBleu, of Lake Charles, has been on dialysis since 2006 and is concerned that a recent bureaucratic proposal to cut

funding for treatment will put her health in danger.

“When I was diagnosed I was already a stage 5,” LeBleu said. “Both of my kidneys were dying. Dialysis is keeping me alive

until I can get a transplant.”

The recent proposed cuts to Medicare reimbursement for dialysis treatments is about 9.4 percent.

Because most of her dialysis is paid

for through Medicare, LeBleu fears that the effects could eliminate her

caregiver, dietician,

social worker or even her clinic.

LeBleu was one of a handful of patients who met with U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-Lafayette, on Monday at DaVita’s Lake

Charles Dialysis Center.

Boustany said the cuts, proposed by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, would limit a patient’s access to care.

“Dialysis is life-saving treatment,” Boustany said. “Without dialysis, patients would die within a matter of days. It’s very

important to have access.”

The proposal would cut into the small profit margin these facilities have, Boustany said.

“If that profit margin is narrowed down to zero, these facilities can’t stay open,” he said. “This facility, for instance,

draws people not only from Lake Charles, but also the surrounding rural communities. Without a facility like this there is

less access to life-saving care.”

DaVita receives about $246 per treatment, which takes three to four hours. The cutback would represent a $30 reduction.

Debbie Wolfe, divisional vice president of DaVita, said the current Medicare rate doesn’t cover the entire cost of treatment

at some clinics.

“Cuts will have a serious impact on our operations,” Wolfe said.

She also said that DaVita may have to look at closing rural facilities, which tend to be less profitable.

Boustany has co-signed a letter with other Members of Congress to fight back against the proposed cuts.

“We’re trying to stop it,” he said. “I am tired of these faceless bureaucrats and agencies making decisions that have the

effect of law.”