More than 20 centers in Texas have been waiting months for certification to treat Medicare patients. A Fort Worth clinic has been waiting more than a year for the paperwork.
Linda Bryant comes to this U.S. Renal Care Center for dialysis 3 times a week. Bryant says, "With kidney failure your kidneys are not working to cleanse your blood." Bryant is one of only 4 patients to use this state-of-the-art facility, which opened in spring of 2008.
It is a very tightly regulated water system. Right now the clinic can only treat patients who have private insurance, because its Medicare certification is caught up in red tape. There is also a shortage of inspectors, and it may take as long as 2 years before they can come by and inspect.
Without that inspection and certification, Medicare will not reimburse any of the center's claims.
According to U.S. Renal Care Physician Dr. Lee Anderson, "It is a financial drain for the operator of this company, and a major inconvenience for patients in this area. If we had Medicare certification, we would have a substantially larger number of patients here."
Bryant adds, "Somebody who lives 3 or 4 blocks over, and they have to pass a dialysis center because they have Medicare and the centers not certified, and they have to go downtown. That has to be very frustrating."
It is a frustration Don Gonzalez knows too well. The 73-year-old lives only a few blocks from the Renal Care Center in west Fort Worth. As a Medicare patient, he has to go to the south-side for dialysis.
Gonzalez explains, "We are getting up there in age, and if it ices up, it's easier to get here then down there."
For now Gonzalez must wait. An inconvenience this clinic knows all too well. Some Abilene clinics also only accept private insurance.