Tester pushing two bipartisan bills to improve medical care

Provisions help kidney transplant recipients, streamline research into pancreatic cancer

(BIG SANDY, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester is boosting medical care for Montanans with a pair of bipartisan bills that improve quality of life while also saving Americans money.

Thousands of Americans each year receive kidney transplants through a Medicare initiative that also covers treatments, such as immunosuppressive drugs, that transplant recipients need for the rest of their lives. 

But the initiative only covers drug treatments for 36 months if the recipient does not have regular Medicare coverage.  Transplant recipients without regular Medicare coverage often cannot afford more expensive drug coverage.  Without the drugs, a person’s body will reject the new kidney.  This leads to an expensive cycle of additional surgery or long-term dialysis.

Tester’s bipartisan bill eliminates the limit on drug coverage, improving transplant recipients’ long-term health while also saving money.  Drug treatments cost about 15 percent less than dialysis per year and 90 percent less than the cost of another transplant.

“This is a smart example of how we can improve folks’ quality of life while also saving money,” Tester said.  “We need more responsible fixes that give folks the certainty they need to live healthy lives while also protecting taxpayers’ wallets.”

Tester’s second bipartisan bill, the Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act, meets Tester’s standards.  It prioritizes research into pancreatic cancer and increases disease outreach. 

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in the United States.  Only 25 percent of individuals diagnosed with pancreatic cancer live past the first year.  Many organizations say the lack of progress in fighting pancreatic cancer stems from a lack of research.

Numerous Montanans contacted Tester in support of these bipartisan bills.  He also recently met with Ray Goeres of Missoula from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Tester’s kidney transplant bill is supported by Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), a fellow member of the influential Senate Appropriations Committee.  It is available online HERE.

Tester’s Pancreatic Cancer Research and Education Act is available online HERE.