Many Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients did not realize that Congress recently passed a Law allowing Dialysis Clinics to open much faster by hiring private-sector inspectors. The new Law, included in the budget bill President Donald Trump recently signed, will allow Dialysis Centers to get their initial Certification from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved via third-party accreditation services like the Joint Commission, which inspects most of the country’s hospitals and psychiatric facilities. However, the close ties and relationships between medical facilities like Dialysis Centers and private third-party inspectors have a checkered record when it comes to ensuring Dialysis patients' safety.
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Let's be clear, there is a backup with regard to inspections of Dialysis Facilities by the government which has prevented Dialysis Centers from opening and caused some patients to travel further for their Dialysis Treatments. Hence, the idea of opening needed Dialysis Centers sooner is valid. However, criticism over rapid expansion and the fact that most Dialysis Facilities in need of inspection are owned by either DaVita or Fresenius Medical Care (two publicly traded companies that have at least 70 percent of the Dialysis market) have raised eyebrows.
What's more, third-party companies like the Joint Commission (mentioned above) are typically funded by hospital as well as clinics and have been criticized for being too tight with the industries that it is tasked with overseeing. For instance, A Wall Street Journal investigation found that it denied accreditation to only about one-percent (1%) of the 350 hospitals that were found to have violated Medicare rules from 2014 to 2016. Michael Abrams (Healthcare Consultant) suggested, "that sort of track record doesn’t inspire much confidence."
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CMS has voiced concerns as well and has even recommended that third-party accreditation groups make all of their inspections public. Yet, the groups are resisting that rule. Many Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients believe that having medical providers pay fees to groups that audit them creates a system in which the auditors would hurt their own bottom line if they shut down a paying customer. Mr. Abrams noted, "Dialysis Centers should instead pay fees to CMS to fund more state inspectors and leave Dialysis Center Certification to the government."
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Several patients have emailed KidneyBuzz.com with concerns that third-party inspections could worsen care which some patients already find substandard, and even put patients at a greater risk of infections and other complications. If you prefer Dialysis Organizations paying CMS rather than third-party companies to assess clinic safety, then sign the below petition:
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