Advocacy | Dialysis | Kidney disease

Celebrating A Medicare Milestone and Looking Ahead to The Future of Kidney Care

June 28, 2023, 11:17am EDT

Senator Cardin speaking at 50th Medicare Anniversary

Last week National Kidney Foundation staff and stakeholders from across the kidney community hosted Members of Congress, legislative staff, and thought leaders in the field of kidney care for a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Medicare End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) program at a reception and innovation expo that highlighted the remarkable achievements that have revolutionized treatment options for individuals with kidney failure.

Focusing on innovations that will save even more lives

NKF CEO Kevin Longino, kidney policy champions, Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), and representatives from sponsoring organizations celebrated the tens of millions of lives that have been saved since the benefit went into effect in 1973 and looked ahead to a future that includes the newest innovations and developments in kidney disease care and prevention.

Longino began the speaking program by thanking Congress for heeding the call from NKF and making the pivotal decision 50 years ago to extend Medicare benefits to those facing the challenges of ESRD. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) followed by acknowledging that more must be done to fulfill the promise of the ESRD benefit, notably by continuing to appropriate funds that will help drive even more kidney disease awareness, education, and research. 

Speakers from industry representatives including Baxter International and Outset Medical noted the need for everyone gathered at the event to continue being good stewards of this important public benefit, by doing everything possible to foster more innovation and to push for expanding patient access to modalities of care, such as home dialysis, that can help ensure they’re getting the care that they feel best meets their needs. 

Sen. Wyden added that the 50th anniversary is a stark reminder of the need to pass legislation that will fix shortcomings in our nation’s transplant system and ensure that every patient on the waitlist who needs a transplant can get one. Learn more about Transplants for All

Featured technologies at the innovation expo included:

  • A groundbreaking kidney perfusion device capable of restoring donated organs to normal body temperature and providing crucial nutrition, extending the viability window for delivery and transplantation by up to 20 hours.
  • A revolutionary bioengineering technique that combines pig organ architecture with human cells, offering new hope for transplant patients.
  • A state-of-the-art dialysis clinic on wheels, integrating water purification and on-demand dialysate production, enabling flexible and accessible care delivery.

Learn more about our NKF Innovation Fund which helped make some of these initiatives possible. 

Making the most of the next 50 years

The following day, members of the NKF Board of Directors joined NKF senior staff in taking 40 legislative meetings on Capitol Hill, urging a bipartisan mix of lawmakers from the House and Senate to support our agenda for the 118th Congress, which includes:

  • Protections for living organ donors
  • Expanding access to home dialysis for patients that want to make use of it
  • Increasing funds for federal programs that promote kidney disease awareness and education

Learn more about our 118th Congress agenda.

Board members include nephrologists, living donors, transplant recipients, care partners, and other members of the kidney community uniquely suited to educate Congress about the urgent need to address the public health crisis that Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) represents. 

To see more photos from the reception and Hill meetings, please follow the hashtag #MyKidneyVoice on Twitter. Board members are already looking forward to future events and opportunities to lobby lawmakers on the importance of supporting our Voices for Kidney Health agenda

Big victories are possible with your voice

Raise your voice for kidney patients nationwide by contacting your Members of Congress and asking them to support kidney patients and issues important to you. See all the ways you can take action today.

Related content