The National Kidney Foundation Supports Bi-Partisan Legislation to Promote Research, Expand Choice, and Improve Care Coordination for People with Kidney Disease

New York, NY (June 11, 2014) –The National Kidney Foundation announced today its support for legislation that aims to promote chronic kidney disease (CKD) research and education, expand care coordination efforts and protect access to care for dialysis patients. The Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act (H.R. 4814) was introduced on June 9 by Representatives Tom Marino (R-PA) and John Lewis (D-GA).

According to the National Kidney Foundation, one in three Americans is at risk for CKD and 26 million have CKD, but most do not know they have it.

Promoting Research

African Americans are disproportionately impacted by kidney disease and are more likely to die prematurely or progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD,) requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive. The proposed legislation includes a call for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide a report on the biological, social, economic, and behavioral factors that lead to the progression of CKD in minority populations, as well as a review of treatment patterns for minority populations. In addition, the bill calls for greater coordination of federal research programs focused on kidney disease.

"At 23, I was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease caused by a genetic abnormality found predominantly in African Americans. By the time any symptoms arose, the disease was aggressive and difficult to treat. As a result I was on dialysis for over two years awaiting a kidney transplant," said 26-year-old Ewo Harrell.

Expanding Choice

More than a decade ago, the National Kidney Foundation worked with Congress to introduce legislation to create a Medicare kidney disease education benefit. In 2008, with the strong support of the kidney community, that legislation passed and people suffering from late stage kidney disease, not yet on dialysis, were able to access education benefits funded by Medicare. However, since implementation, this benefit has been underutilized. This bill will expand the types of health care professionals who are qualified to provide this education and allow dialysis social workers, nurses and dietitians to participate in the education. In addition the bill creates stronger incentives for nephrology practitioners to work in underserved and rural areas and promotes greater access to home dialysis therapies.

“The National Kidney Foundation’s Council of Nephrology Social Workers (CNSW) supports education to enhance self-management, health literacy, and patient outcomes. These benefits will give Americans the opportunity to seek out healthcare options earlier; to make better and more informed choices,” said Debbie R. Brady, CNSW Chair-Elect.

Improving Care Coordination

The bill improves access to care for dialysis patients and affords them the same Medicare options as those with disabilities and those over age 65, such as access to Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans may have better care coordination benefits and lower co-payments than traditional Medicare. The bill also establishes a voluntary program that allows nephrology practitioners and dialysis providers to work closely with other health care providers to reduce hospital admissions and mortality in dialysis patients.

“The National Kidney Foundation stands together with other members of the kidney community in support of this legislation that we know will have a positive impact on the lives and health of kidney patients across the nation,“ said Beth Piraino, MD, President of of the National Kidney Foundation.

Kidney Facts from the National Kidney Foundation:

  • CKD is a progressive disease that may lead to premature death or kidney failure.
  • Nearly 616,000 Americans have ESRD and more than 430,000 rely on life sustaining dialysis.
  • Since 2000, the number of patients who have been diagnosed with kidney failure has increased 57%.
  • High blood pressure, diabetes, a family history of kidney failure and being over 60 are the leading causes of kidney disease.

Publication Date

Wednesday, June 11, 2014