Kidney Care Choices (KCC) Model

Update: The Kidney Care Choices (KCC) Model’s first Performance Year start date will now be January 1, 2022. CMS looks forward to sharing additional information when available.

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is announcing the Kidney Care Choices (KCC) Model start date for the first Performance Year will be delayed from April 1, 2021 to January 1, 2022. This change applies to all four options within the KCC Model: the CMS Kidney Care First (KCF) Option, and the three Comprehensive Kidney Care Contracting (CKCC) Options. Participants and stakeholders will be notified of any updates via listserv, as information becomes available. Updates for the KCC Model will also be posted to the KCC webpage.

Outreach and Education Resources for Partners During the Pandemic

As COVID-19 vaccines begin rolling out across the country, CMS is taking action to protect the health and safety of our nation’s patients and providers and keeping you updated on the latest COVID-19 resources from HHS, CDC and CMS.

With information coming from many different sources, CMS has compiled resources and materials to help you share important and relevant information on the COVID-19 vaccine with the people that you serve. You can find these and more resources on the COVID-19 Partner Resources Page and the HHS COVID Education Campaign page. We look forward to partnering with you to promote vaccine safety and encourage our beneficiaries to get vaccinated when they have the opportunity.

Promoting COVID-19 Vaccines in Your Community

CDC has designed a COVID-19 vaccine toolkit to help your organization educate community members about COVID-19 vaccines, raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination, and address common questions and concerns. It is full of free digital resources, templates, posters and ideas for how to work within your community to help promote the COVID vaccine.

HOW CAN YOU GET STARTED?

Know the COVID-19 Vaccine Resources that are Available to You

Arabic | Spanish | Korean | Russian | Simplified Chinese | Tagalog | Traditional Chinese | Vietnamese

Use the COVID-19 Resources to Share your Messages

  • Adapt the key messages to the language, tone, and format that will resonate with your community. You know what works in your community.
  • Customize this template letter and send or email it to your community members to introduce your COVID-19 vaccine educational activities.
  • Print copies of the posters and use them as handouts or to hang in highly visible places in your community.
  • Organize a COVID-19 vaccine presentation for your community members and promote it via digital and community communication channels. If your community has internet access, organize a virtual presentation. If it does not, organize an in-person presentation following COVID-19 safety precautions. Ask if your local health department can provide a speaker if you do not have a health educator on staff.
  • Continue to educate your community via articles, blog posts, and CDC social media posts or retweet and share CMS Medicare social media messages on Twitter and Facebook.
  • Invite community members to wear stickers once they have been vaccinated and post vaccination selfies on social media.

Communicate with Your Community

  • Send an introductory letter to encourage your branches, chapters, or affiliates to review and use the toolkit materials, or a letter to members of your organization.
  • Drop the newsletter content into your e-newsletters or listservs to distributed and share information widely on COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Use the COVID-19 Vaccine Basic slide deck for virtual town halls or other informational meetings within your communities. You can use all or part of the set or also include your own organization’s information. Slides are also available in Spanish.
  • Share these key messages about COVID-19 vaccine to educate your communities. These key messages are also available in a printable PDF version.
  • Use the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to help answer questions about COVID-19 vaccine in your communities. FAQs also available in a printable PDF version.
  • Share credible and accurate COVID-19 vaccine information from the Myths & Facts page.
  • Encourage your community members who are vaccinated to enroll in v-safe an after vaccination health checker.

Questions? Please e-mail us: Partnership@cms.hhs.gov

FDA Issues Emergency Use Authorization for Third COVID-19 Vaccine

Action Advances Fight Against COVID-19, Follows Comprehensive Evaluation of Available Safety, Effectiveness and Manufacturing Quality Information by FDA Career Scientists, Input from External Experts


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the third vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARSCoV-2). The EUA allows the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine to be distributed in the U.S for use in individuals 18 years of age and older.
“The authorization of this vaccine expands the availability of vaccines, the best medical prevention method for COVID-19, to help us in the fight against this pandemic, which has claimed over half a million lives in the United States,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “The FDA, through our open and transparent scientific review process, has now authorized three COVID-19 vaccines with the urgency called for during this pandemic, using the agency’s rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization.”
The FDA has determined that the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine has met the statutory criteria for issuance of an EUA. The totality of the available data provides clear evidence that the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine may be effective in preventing COVID-19. The data also show that the vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks, supporting the company’s request for the vaccine’s use in people 18 years of age and older. In making this determination, the FDA can assure the public and medical community that it has conducted a thorough evaluation of the available safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality information.
Click HERE to download and print the entire FDA News Release.

2/10 Webinar @ 3 PM EST: Common Benefits Questions From Those on SSDI or SSI

My Employment Options will present a free February 10, 2021 webinar on Common Benefit Questions in the SSA Ticket to Work Program. Topics include who is eligible for Ticket to Work, the difference between SSDI and SSI, rules for working while on SSDI, rules for working while on SSI, common questions and myths, how to report your earnings, and the stages of Ticket to Work. Find more information and register at https://www.myemploymentoptions.com/webinar-registration-page/.

Changes in the ESRD PPS and Payment for Dialysis Furnished for AKI in ESRD Facilities for CY 2021

CMS issued a new MLN Matters Article MM12011 on Implementation of Changes in the End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Prospective Payment System (PPS) and Payment for Dialysis Furnished for Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) in ESRD Facilities for Calendar Year (CY) 2021 (PDF). Learn about rate and policy updates.

October 12-17, 2020 is National Dialysis Technician Recognition Week

Each year, the National Association of Nephrology Technicians / Technologists (NANT) recognizes hemodialysis technicians for the vital contributions they make to the nephrology field. It’s essential to make recognition, including rewards, part of your everyday culture. But that doesn’t mean National Dialysis Technician National Recognition Week should go unnoticed. These extra-special perks will remind all your NCTs and NBTs how much you care. Click here to download resources you can use in your facility to express appreciation.

National Dialysis Technician Recognition Week

AAKP Recognizes IPRO ESRD Network of the South Atlantic for Service to the Kidney Patient Community

The IPRO End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Network of the South Atlantic has been selected as the 2020 recipient of the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) Dominick Gentile, MD, Memorial Award – an AAKP National Legacy Award.

Recognizing extraordinary services and programs that significantly benefit the kidney patient community, the award is being given to the IPRO ESRD Network of the South Atlantic for its work on the “Enhanced Patient Engagement to Improve Patient-Centered Outcomes Among Chronic Kidney Disease Project;” an AAKP-led Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Dissemination grant; its longstanding leadership in promoting the important work of the Southeastern Kidney Transplant Coalition; and its ongoing commitment to serving the kidney patient community of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

“It is an honor for our Network staff to be selected for this prestigious award by a national, patient-led, patient-focused organization that represents the interests and needs of the renal population we are committed to serve,” says Susan Caponi, CEO of IPRO’s ESRD Network Program. “This award spotlights the excellent work of our ESRD Network program staff and the value that the ESRD Network Program brings to kidney patients across the country.”

Shannon Wright, Executive Director, ESRD Network of the South Atlantic adds, “We are thrilled to be recognized with such a highly-regarded award. We value the opportunity to collaborate with our colleagues at AAKP and members of the Southeastern Kidney Transplant Coalition to improve healthcare outcomes and experience of care for the kidney community.”

“AAKP is fortunate to have such a good partnership with IPRO ESRD Network of South Atlantic. They are a valuable resource for the patients and staffed with true professionals. Their team has contributed substantively to the success of the AAKP-lead PCORI project,” said Richard Knight, transplant recipient and President of AAKP.

AAKP patients have been heavily involved in every kidney-related research study, over seventeen funded by PCORI since its inception. Officials from PCORI are regularly involved in AAKP national meetings including the AAKP Annual Policy Summit.

AAKP, the oldest and largest fully independent kidney patient organization in the United States, is dedicated to improving the lives and long-term outcome of kidney patients through education, advocacy, patient engagement and the fostering of patient communities. AAKP fights for early detection; increased kidney transplantation and pre-emptive transplantation; full patient choice of either in-center or home dialysis; protection of the patient/physician relationship; promotion of research and innovation; and the elimination of barriers for patient access to available treatment options. The award was named in honor of Dr. Dominick Gentile (1932-1997), a Board Member of AAKP at a time when the organization was known as the National Association of Patients on Hemodialysis (NAPH), who helped conceptualize the ESRD Networks, its Medical Advisory Board, and the National Forum of ESRD Networks.

The IPRO ESRD Network of the South Atlantic is one of four ESRD Networks managed by IPRO, a non-profit organization that works with government agencies, providers, and consumers to design and implement innovative programs that improve that bring policy ideas to life. In addition to serving as the ESRD Network for the South Atlantic, IPRO manages the ESRD Network of New England, ESRD Network of the Ohio River Valley, and ESRD Network of New York.

Under the direction of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the IPRO ESRD Network Program supports the renal community in ensuring safe, effective, patient-centered care for more than 132,000 renal patients in 13 states.

Click here for the official press release.

Advancing American Kidney Health (AAKH): 2020 Progress Report

On August 17, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a progress report and related press release on the Advancing American Kidney Health (AAKH) Initiative that was first announced in July 2019. The report highlights the public awareness activities launched by HHS relating to chronic kidney disease (CKD) and the voluntary kidney payment models for managing persons with late stage CKD and ESRD. With regard to the mandatory ESRD Treatment Choices (ETC) model, the progress report simply notes that the proposed rule was released in July 2019.

Joint Statement: Roadmap for Maintaining Essential Surgery during COVID-19 Pandemic

On August 13, 2020 the American Hospital Association (AHA) along with the American College of Surgeons (ACS), American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) released a Joint Statement: Roadmap for Maintaining Essential Surgery During COVID-19 Pandemic. This new joint statement provides a list of principles and considerations to guide physicians, nurses, and hospitals and health systems as they provide essential care to their patients and communities. The joint statement builds on the Joint Statement: Roadmap for Resuming Elective Surgery after COVID-19 Pandemic released by the AHA, ACS, ASA, and AORN on April 17, 2020.

New ESRD Quality Incentive Program (QIP) Instructions

On June 1, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will start the next chapter of its ESRD Quality Reporting System (EQRS) modernization efforts by implementing the first phase of a two-part ESRD Quality Incentive Program (ESRD QIP) User Interface (UI) rollout, in support of the ESRD QIP Payment Year (PY) 2021 Preview Period.

The purpose of this email is to provide guidance related to the June 1, 2020 ESRD QIP UI release. It summarizes the purpose and benefits of the ESRD QIP UI implementation into EQRS, outlines specific tasks that EQRS users who need to access the ESRD QIP UI must complete at this time, and details how users can access available training resources. 

Purpose and Benefits of ESRD QIP UI Implementation into EQRS:

Incorporating the ESRD QIP UI into the EQRS system supports CMS’s efforts to consolidate the functionalities of the CROWNWeb, ESRD QIP, and Renal Management Information System (REMIS) applications into a single system. Users can now use one account to access multiple CMS EQRS business needs via a single platform – the EQRS Global Application.

This rollout of the ESRD QIP UI into EQRS is the first significant change to the ESRD QIP procedures since the inception of the program. The updates to the ESRD QIP UI will improve overall user experience and reduce burden. Phase 1 of the rollout consists of a new role request process and user interface with enhanced navigation features. Fictitious data will be visible in this first release for illustrative purposes only. Phase 2 will be released when the ESRD QIP PY 2021 Preview Period starts in mid-July 2020. Phase 2 will include facilities’ actual PY 2021 data, as well as consist of a streamlined communication and inquiry submission process.

What You Need to Do at This Time:

First, you should check with your organization to confirm if you need an ESRD QIP UI role as a Facility Point of Contact to submit inquiries and access reports, or as a Facility Viewer to see previously submitted inquiries as well as access reports within the ESRD QIP UI.

The June 1, 2020 implementation supports the PY 2021 Preview Period, which is scheduled to start mid-July 2020. This rollout provides users with early access to the ESRD QIP UI to allow them to verify and manage their roles and become familiar with the new UI prior to the start of the PY 2021 Preview Period.

Between June 1, 2020 and mid-July 2020, you should:

NOTE: Roles maintained in the previous ESRD QIP system were automatically migrated into EQRS. Existing roles can be updated, and new users can request access.

  •     Verify that your roles and organizations were migrated over correctly, update an organization’s role, or submit a new ESRD QIP role request.
  •     Click the QIP Scores link in the menu.
  •     Navigate through the ESRD QIP UI to ensure that you are able to access the screens.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Scores and measure feedback shown in the ESRD QIP UI between June 1, 2020 and mid-July 2020 ARE FOR THE PURPOSES OF ILLUSTRATION ONLY – USING FICTITIOUS DATA. THIS DOES NOT REFLECT FACILITIES’ PY 2021 PREVIEW PERIOD SCORES.

  •     Attend ESRD QIP UI Training and PY 2021 Preview Period webinar events.
  •     Maintain system access and log in to the ESRD QIP UI at the start of the PY 2021 Preview Period to access reports and submit necessary inquiries.

Training Materials and Assistance:

Users who still need to complete the HARP account registration process or needs step-by-step instructions on how to request roles within the EQRS system can review training videos, Quick Start Guides, Frequently Asked Questions, and additional materials via MyCROWNWeb.org at https://mycrownweb.org/harp-training/.  

ESRD QIP UI Training and PY 2021 Preview Period webinar events will be provided prior to the start of the PY 2021 Preview Period. Event registration details will be sent via email and posted on www.MyCROWNWeb.org. Sign up for the EQRS Mailing List via www.MyCROWNWeb.org to receive updates regarding upcoming events.

Should you need assistance with accessing EQRS or HARP account or roles, contact the QualityNet Service Desk at Email: qnetsupport-esrd@hcqis.org, phone: 1-866-288-8912, or TRS: 711. Please DO NOT contact the QualityNet Service Desk regarding the FICTITIOUS ESRD QIP scores and measures in the ESRD QIP UI.

Should you need assistance with navigating through the ESRD QIP UI, contact the ESRD Network for your area https://esrdncc.org/en/ESRD-network-map/ and ask for the Data Manager.

CMS Releases Recommendations on Adult Elective Surgeries, Non-Essential Medical, Surgical, and Dental Procedures During COVID-19 Response

Earlier today at the White House Task Force Press Briefing, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that all elective surgeries, non-essential medical, surgical, and dental procedures be delayed during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

As more healthcare providers are increasingly being asked to assist with the COVID-19 response, it is critical that they consider whether non-essential surgeries and procedures can be delayed so they can preserve personal protective equipment (PPE), beds, and ventilators.

“The reality is clear and the stakes are high: we need to preserve personal protective equipment for those on the front lines of this fight,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

This will not only preserve equipment but also free up our healthcare workforce to care for the patients who are most in need. Additionally, as states and the nation as a whole work towards limiting the spread of COVID-19, healthcare providers should encourage patients to remain home, unless there is an emergency, to protect others while also limiting their exposure to the virus. They should also urge patients to follow the President’s recently issued guidelines to help slow the spread of the virus.

The recommendations provide a framework for hospitals and clinicians to implement immediately during the COVID-19 response. The recommendations outline factors that should be considered for postponing elective surgeries, and non-essential medical, surgical, and dental procedures. Those factors include patient risk factors, availability of beds, staff and PPE, and the urgency of the procedure. This will help providers to focus on addressing more urgent cases and preserve resources needed for the COVID-19 response. The decision about proceeding with non-essential surgeries and procedures will be made at the local level by the clinician, patient, hospital, and state and local health departments.

The recommendations can be found here:  https://www.cms.gov/files/document/31820-cms-adult-elective-surgery-and-procedures-recommendations.pdf

These recommendations, and earlier CMS guidance and actions in response to the COVID-19 virus, are part of the ongoing White House Task Force efforts. To keep up with the important work the Task Force is doing in response to COVID-19 click here www.coronavirus.gov for further information. For a complete and updated list of CMS actions, and other information specific to CMS, please visit the Current Emergencies Website.

President Trump Expands Telehealth Benefits for Medicare Beneficiaries During COVID-19 Outbreak

The Trump Administration today announced expanded Medicare telehealth coverage that will enable beneficiaries to receive a wider range of healthcare services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. Beginning on March 6, 2020, Medicare—administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—will temporarily pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries residing across the entire country.

“The Trump Administration is taking swift and bold action to give patients greater access to care through telehealth during the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Administrator Seema Verma. “These changes allow seniors to communicate with their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility so that they can limit risk of exposure and spread of this virus. Clinicians on the frontlines will now have greater flexibility to safely treat our beneficiaries.”

On March 13, 2020, President Trump announced an emergency declaration under the Stafford Act and the National Emergencies Act. Consistent with President Trump’s emergency declaration, CMS is expanding Medicare’s telehealth benefits under the 1135 waiver authority and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. This guidance and other recent actions by CMS provide regulatory flexibility to ensure that all Americans—particularly high-risk individuals—are aware of easy-to-use, accessible benefits that can help keep them healthy while helping to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Prior to this announcement, Medicare was only allowed to pay clinicians for telehealth services such as routine visits in certain circumstances. For example, the beneficiary receiving the services must live in a rural area and travel to a local medical facility to get telehealth services from a doctor in a remote location. In addition, the beneficiary would generally not be allowed to receive telehealth services in their home.

Click here to read more.