Forced Back on Dialysis
Kidney transplant recipients forced back on dialysis

About this project

A flawed Medicare policy has contributed to the suffering of American kidney patients for decades. While the federal entitlement program covers a lifetime of costly dialysis treatments, it provides only 36 months of anti-rejection medications that kidney transplant recipients need the rest of their lives. Without the drugs, the kidney fails and recipients return to the dialysis regimen, sometimes waiting years for the next kidney transplant. The counter-intuitive policy keeps patients in a U.S. dialysis system with some of the worst mortality rates in the world, and wastes the precious resource of donated kidneys. It can cost taxpayers millions more in the long run. Yet, attempts by lawmakers to remedy the problem have been defeated by lobbying from a multi-billion dollar dialysis industry that wants to ensure that monies for the transplant drugs do not come from the government's dialysis budget. Among the key lobbyists is dialysis drug maker Amgen of Thousand Oaks.

Authors

John Gonzales

Senior writer John Gonzales specializes in the demographics of health policy. He was most recently based in New Orleans as Southern Regional Correspondent for the Associated Press. He covered efforts to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina, as well as immigration and the shifting demographics of The South. Gonzales previously was Hispanic Affairs reporter at Newsday -- a beat that took him from New York's emerging Mexican neighborhoods, to the U.S. border region, to rural Mexican towns. His "Texas Smuggling" articles won the National Association of Hispanic Journalists best breaking news award in 2004. He was also awarded The Freedom Forum’s North American Journalist Exchange fellowship in 2001. Gonzales spent the early part of his 15-year journalism career on the staffs of The Daily Breeze and the Gardena Valley News. He is a USC Annenberg graduate, with honors, and a dual major in political science. He is also a Spanish speaker and graduate of the Los Angeles Times Minority Editorial Training Program, or METPro. 

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© 2014 California Healthcare Foundation Center for Health Reporting

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