Kidney Patients Team Up in Washington to Kick Off National Kidney Month

New York, NY –February 24, 2014-- Kidney patients will make their voices heard in Washington, DC, on March 3-4 at the inaugural kidney patient summit hosted by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) in honor of National Kidney Month. Nearly 80 kidney patient and family members representing the NKF, Alport Syndrome Foundation, American Association of Kidney Patients, IGA Nephropathy Foundation of America, The Nephcure Foundation and PKD Foundation will meet with Members of Congress and their staffs to share personal stories and advocate for policies that promote early detection and additional federal research funding for kidney disease.

"Cost cutting in healthcare has recently been a major focus of lawmakers. Last year, cuts to payment for dialysis care were finalized in the Medicare program that will be phased in over the next four years. This year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposed removing protection for patient access to immunosuppressive drugs under Medicare Part D as one way to save money," said Bruce Skyer, CEO, NKF. "We believe that early detection and investment in research to prevent kidney disease progression is the way to save healthcare costs incurred by both Medicare and private insurance companies. Anyone who is over age 60 or who has diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of kidney failure is at increased risk and should be tested. Screening and education are inexpensive, as compared to treatment of end-stage kidney failure which costs the federal government nearly $30 billion annually," continued Skyer.

The patient summit will educate patients about the importance of advocacy and the efforts that lawmakers and government agencies have expended so far to improve kidney care. Featured speakers include Dr. Griffin Rodgers, Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, who will talk about NIH’s research efforts, and former Senator Bob Bennett (R - Utah), a polycystic kidney disease (PKD) patient.

A Breakfast Briefing for congressional staff, sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation, with the support of Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI) and other members of the Congressional Kidney Caucus is planned as well.

"The Kidney Patient Summit is an opportunity for me to build awareness for the issues surrounding kidney disease and to give a voice to those who are affected. My goal is to touch the hearts of our representatives and to emphasize that their support of kidney initiatives is of utmost importance. I am one of the many faces of kidney disease, and I would like to show it to help others," said Melanie Litt, a kidney dialysis patient who will be attending the summit.

The National Kidney Foundation is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and their families and tens of millions of Americans at risk. For more information on kidney disease and National Kidney Month activities for March 2014, visit the National Kidney Foundation at www.kidney.org

To learn more about the summit partners, please visit their websites:

Alport Syndrome Foundation
www.alportsyndrome.org

American Association for Kidney Patients
www.aakp.org

IGA Nephropathy Foundation of America
www.iganephropathy.org

The Nephcure Foundation
www.nephcure.org

PKD Foundation
www.pkdcure.org