U.S. House approves bill to get new dialysis facilities open

(WIBW) - A bill aimed at getting new dialysis facilities opened more quickly passed the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas, introduced the measure as part of the Medicare Part B Improvement Act of 2017. It would allow for independent accreditation of dialysis facilities.

"This provision will allow dialysis clinics across America to more easily obtain a survey so they may serve patients that depend on their care," Jenkins said in remarks on the House floor.

The bill was inspired, in part, by delays Davita Dialysis has encountered with its new facility at SW 37th and Wanamaker in Topeka.

A 13 NEWS investigation last August found Davita applied for its inspection for the facility in October 2015. However, they were later informed it would be until at least this September before it will happen.

The Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment has blamed the delays on both a staffing shortage, plus the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) tier system which puts new facility surveys at lowest priority.

Nearly all insurance requires dialysis be done at a facility that has CMS certification.

"Without these clinics, patients are forced to find clinics much further away, which depending on access to transportation can be a barrier to treatment. That is unacceptable and this problem will be easily solved by this provision," Jenkins said. "Those third-party organizations must demonstrate their standards are as good as or are better than those standards used by CMS and the Secretary must approve them."

The bill still must pass the Senate.