The Medicare End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Program, a national health insurance program for people with end stage renal disease, was established in 1972 with the passage of Section 299I of Public Law 92-603. The formation of ESRD Network Organizations was authorized in 1978 by Public Law 95-292 which amended Title XVIII of the Social Security Act by adding section 1881. Thirty-two ESRD Network areas were initially established. H.R. 8423 was designed to encourage self-care dialysis and kidney transplantation and clarify reimbursement procedures in order to achieve more effective control of the costs of the renal disease program. In 1986, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-509) amended section 1881c of the Social Security Act to establish at least 17 ESRD Network areas and to revise the Network Organizations responsibilities.
Today, eighteen (18) ESRD Network Organizations exist under contract to CMS and serve as liaisons between the federal government and the providers of ESRD services. (A list of the 18 ESRD Network organizations is provided on the inside front cover.) The Network Organizations are defined geographically by the number and concentration of ESRD beneficiaries in each area. Some Networks represent one state, others multiple states. The ESRD Network Organizations' responsibilities include: the quality oversight of the care ESRD patients receive, the collection of data to administer the national Medicare ESRD program, and the provision of technical assistance to ESRD providers and patients in areas related to ESRD.
All ESRD Networks are members of the Forum of ESRD Networks, which is a not-for-profit organization that advocates on behalf of its membership and coordinates projects and activities of mutual interest to ESRD Networks. The Forum facilitates the flow of information and advances a national quality agenda with CMS and other renal organizations.