The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced May 23 that it would retain the existing “protected class” status for immunosuppressant medications available as a benefit under Medicare Part D coverage. This action will allow transplant recipients covered by Medicare to continue to receive these medications without having to either pay substantially more for them or possibly forego taking them because of inability to afford them.
Virtually all transplant recipients take daily medication to prevent organ rejection by suppressing the body’s immune system response to cells from the transplanted organ. Immunosuppressant drugs have helped many recipients to have many years of continued health and organ function.
CMS issued a proposed rule in January 2014, which included provisions to possibly remove the protected class status of certain groups of medications as part of a broader review of Medicare prescription coverage. UNOS, along with a number of other transplant professional and patient advocate organizations, responded to the proposed rule and asked CMS to keep the current status of these medications for the continued health and survival of transplant recipients.