KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Eight nearly new kidney dialysis clinics in Kansas are sitting mostly unused because the state is more than two years behind in inspecting and certifying the facilities.
Another four clinics have halted expansions as they wait for state inspections, the Kansas City Star reported .
Federal funding for inspectors was reduced in recent years, and Kansas hasn’t made up the difference. The situation has caused high turnover in the health facility inspection force, with five of the eight positions changing hands last year, according to Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) contracts with state health departments to do the inspections. Without inspections, dialysis centers can’t bill Medicare, which covers 85 percent of people in the country with kidney failure.
By federal law, the backlog for new dialysis centers are a lower priority than inspections of other types of facilities and existing dialysis centers with problems.
“Dialysis centers may petition CMS to have their initial surveys moved into a higher priority tier if they can make a clear and convincing case of need in their area to CMS,” said Matt Keith, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “If CMS agrees with the petitioning facility, it will give KDHE clearance to move an initial survey of a dialysis center onto the schedule.”
Syd Stevens, administrator of Midwest Nephrology Consultants, said people with kidney failure need new dialysis centers the most.
“It’s really not fair that they have to wait to get in, and it’s really not fair if you’re dialyzing farther away from you and this unit is ready and waiting three block down (the) street,” Stevens said.
U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-KS, has introduced a bill that would allow the federal government to contract with private sector companies to perform the dialysis center inspections.
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com