Initiative credited with creating unprecedented momentum for kidney advocacy
New York, NY - June 1, 2022 – It’s been an unprecedented year for kidney advocacy. The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) today announced its NKF Voices for Kidney Health™ program gained significant increases in both congressional support and funding for kidney-disease related research and prevention in its first year of operations.
Launched one year ago today, Voices for Kidney Health is a diverse nationwide community of dedicated advocates committed to improving the lives of those living with kidney disease through meaningful policy change. By sharing their own life stories with elected officials and other policy leaders, Voices advocates work to advance policies that expand access to home dialysis, work toward transplants for all, protect living organ donors, promote health equity, and accelerate investment in kidney disease prevention and research.
The impact that Voices for Kidney Health has already had on advancing pro-kidney health policies is clear. During the past year, Voices advocacy resulted in increases in congressional funding for kidney-disease related research and prevention activities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDD). This trend has continued into 2022, with Voices advocates successfully lobbying 82 members of Congress – a new record - to sign NKF’s annual kidney funding letter to support continued increases at CDC and NIDD.
Voices advocates also generated tens of thousands of letters to federal, state, and local policymakers, collected thousands of signatures on a petition calling for prioritization of at-risk kidney community members for COVID-19 vaccinations, and registered thousands of new kidney community advocates to join the fight.
Additionally, NKF Voices for Kidney Health advocates secured unprecedented support in State legislative sessions with eight new states passing Living Donor Protection Acts (LDPA) and Chronic Kidney Disease task force legislation in 2022. Congressional support for kidney legislation is also unrivaled when compared to previous years. The federal LDPA (H.R. 1255/S. 377) currently has 125 cosponsors in the House and 40 cosponsors in the Senate, while18 Representatives have signed on in support of the newly introduced Improving Access to Home Dialysis Act (H.R. 5426).
“As we celebrate the achievements of the past year, we must also acknowledge that there is still much work to be done,” said Kevin Longino, Chief Executive Officer of the NKF and a kidney transplant recipient. “Racial and ethnic disparities in the awareness, diagnosis, and treatment of kidney disease lead to worse outcomes for kidney patients in communities of color. Patients face unequal access to kidney transplant, the optimal treatment for kidney failure. Life, long-term care, and disability insurers can still discriminate against living organ donors in almost half of U.S. states. These are just a few of the issues we’re addressing as Voices for Kidney Health enters its second year.”
“NKF’s gratitude to our Voices advocates cannot be overstated,” Longino added. “We are continually impressed by their commitment to improving the lives of their fellow kidney patients, and it is a privilege to work with each and every one of them. Thanks to their continued dedication, Voices for Kidney Health will continue to represent the sound of positive change for kidney patients nationwide.”
Interested in joining the fight for kidney health? For more details on how to become an advocate and join Voices for Kidney Health, go to voices.kidney.org.
Kidney Disease Facts
In the United States, 37 million adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease—and approximately 90 percent don’t know they have it. 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. are at risk for chronic kidney disease. Risk factors for kidney disease include: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and family history. People of Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. Blacks or African Americans are almost 4 times more likely than White Americans to have kidney failure. Hispanics are 1.3 times more likely than non-Hispanics to have kidney failure.
Approximately 785,000 Americans have irreversible kidney failure and need dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive. More than 500,000 of these patients receive dialysis at least three times per week to replace kidney function. Nearly 100,000 Americans are on the waitlist for a kidney transplant right now. Depending on where a patient lives, the average wait time for a kidney transplant can be upwards of three to seven years.
About the National Kidney Foundation
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the largest, most comprehensive, and longstanding patient-centric organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease in the U.S. For more information about NKF, visit www.kidney.org.