National Kidney Foundation Applauds Proposal to Address Chronic Disease Care

Washington, D.C. – The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is pleased with the Senate Finance Committee’s announcement, under the leadership of Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), to lower healthcare costs and improve care for individuals with multiple chronic illnesses.

According to the committee, the vast majority of Medicare dollars are spent caring for patients living with multiple persistent, chronic health conditions like chronic kidney disease (CKD). The variety of services required for this care can often be uncoordinated and costly.

CKD is a disease multiplier that leads to cardiovascular disease, bone disease and other chronic conditions. Medicare already spends about $87 billion annually to care for patients with kidney disease, including nearly $29 billion for most of the 636,000 individuals with end stage renal disease. As CKD advances from stage 1-4, costs nearly double from one stage to the next.  

“CKD is very common, but virtually unknown to the average person.  It is also costly, both in terms of dollars and quality of life, but preventable in the majority of patients,” said Kevin Longino, Interim Chief Executive Officer of the National Kidney Foundation. “Emerging evidence from a number of sources suggests that early interventions and improved care coordination results in significant cost savings and better outcomes for patients. We hope to work with the committee on strategies to accomplish these outcomes within the Medicare system.”

According to the Senate’s Finance Committee, spending on chronic illnesses accounts for roughly 93% of Medicare spending today. Hatch and Wyden announced the formation of a working group to develop policy ideas to help coordinate care and reduce costs of managing multiple chronic conditions. Without encouragement for providers to coordinate care, many Medicare patients have to visit multiple doctors and specialists to receive their care they need.

NKF has continued to recommend and advocate for improved strategies to incentivize earlier detection and care coordination for CKD in the Medicare program, which could save lives, kidneys and lower costs.

Over 26 million people have CKD, yet only 10% are aware they have it. Another 73 million are at risk. A recent study published by researchers leading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) CKD surveillance program show that the burden of CKD is increasing and that over half of U.S. adults age 30-64 are likely to develop CKD.   

“Intervention at the earliest stage is vital to improving outcomes, lowering health care costs, and improving patient experience,” Tonya Saffer, the National Kidney Foundation’s Senior Health Policy Director. “We look forward to working with the Senate Finance Committee and its working group to craft policies to address CKD and chronic disease care and spending.”

 

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) 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, visit www.kidney.org.