Think About It: Dialysis Delay - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

January 8, 2018

Think About It: Dialysis Delay

To suggest that the wheels of government move slowly would be an obvious understatement. But to suggest that no movement sometimes exists and sometimes has serious repercussions, well, that's shameful. The federal government provides 80% of the funding for local department of health inspectors, the people that check on facilities to ensure patient safety. The state of Hawaii picks up the rest of the tab.

Last week a story made it apparent that too few inspectors are doing too few certification checks on new and existing dialysis centers statewide. Unfortunately, the feds consider a new facility pretty low on its priority list- a new facility is actually considered tier 3 on the priority list out of four tiers, with tier 1 being the highest. So the health department is planning to plead for more inspectors, as hundreds of people locally are displaced or greatly inconvenienced by the lack of available dialysis centers statewide. Oh yeh, a center must be certified in order to get reimbursed for Medicare and Medicaid patients, and those folks make up the bulk of the dialysis center customer base. By the way, the first thing we need to focus on is healthier lifestyles, to bring the curve down on this growing problem locally of the need for dialysis in the first place. That, we can control.

Bottom line, the legislature is going to look at a bill to add six contractors to start inspecting facilities on a timelier basis, regardless of the feds' illogical tier system of prioritizing. People need treatment; centers need to be fiscally sound through approved federal reimbursements. And it's all taking far too long. Even if the DOH gets approval from the federal government to add more full time inspectors this year, those additions won't be in the field locally until 2020. Try telling that to someone with a failing kidney. Try telling that to someone who has to drive 20-miles at 11pm to get dialysis treatment because other facilities aren't open yet or can't handle adding any new patients. Let's hope the legislature can start the ball rolling and the feds can expedite approval so more people can get treated as need... soon. Think about it…

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