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Late last year Congress finally passed its FY22 Appropriations bills, which included a $1 million increase to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Chronic Kidney Disease Initiative; an increase to research funding at the National Institutes of Digestive Diabetes and Kidney Diseases; and important report language on kidney research, innovation, and accountability in the transplant system. While we are thankful for the past two years of additional kidney funding, which has expanded the CDC’s program from $2.5 million to $4.5 million, we must keep up our efforts to ensure the 118th Congress will be as generous.
Top Three Legislative Priorities
As witnessed in the 15 rounds of votes to elect Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the House Freedom Caucus is exacting concessions in areas like government funding and oversight. It is our job as advocates to educate these members on why kidney funding is so important. Not only does it improve patient lives, but we know that treating kidney disease early, through awareness and early detection, is less expensive and less burdensome to Medicare than waiting to pay for dialysis.
Our top 2023 three legislature priorities include:
- The Living Donor Protection Act (LDPA): Eliminates discrimination against living donors in the procurement of life, disability, and long-term care insurance and codifies existing Department of Labor protections for living donors under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
- The Improving Access to Home Dialysis Act (IAHDA): Expands patient choice and removes barriers to accessing home dialysis.
- The Organ Transplantation Transparency, Accessibility, and Reform Act (OTTAR): Aims to address the need for additional transparency and accountability in the organ procurement and transplantation system.
Identifying and Working with New Members of Congress
Last year we pushed hard to get the highest number of cosponsors ever for our LDPA, but still fell short of passing it into law. Part of the issue is that LDPA has several committee referrals in the House, which slows down the review process. Therefore, we are working with the bill sponsors and stakeholders to introduce a version of the bill with slightly different wording in the hopes of streamlining some of these referral issues.
Similarly, we are identifying a new House Democrat and House Republican for the Improving Access to Home Dialysis Act after our previous Democratic sponsor, Rep. Bobby Rush, retired, and our previous Republican sponsor, Rep. Jason Smith, has been elected chair of the Ways and Means Committee. Many times committee chairs will recuse themselves from bills that may come before their committee for consideration. We are also looking for a Senate Democrat to join Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) to introduce a bipartisan Senate version of the bill.
Additionally, there are 82 new members of this Congress (75 in the House and seven in the Senate), who will require outreach, education, and advocacy to introduce them to kidney disease and our kidney health priorities. Check this list to see if you have a new Member of Congress.
No matter who your members are, please take action now and ask them to support our kidney policy priorities.
Big Victories are Possible with Your Voice
As you can see we have a very full legislative agenda for the 118th Congress, and we look forward to working with you all at the Kidney Patient Summit in March to advance these priorities. This is definitely a year where we will need even more advocacy, so please reach out with any questions or concerns, and try to recruit a few friends to join us, too!
Since donating a kidney to her brother Brian in 2005, June Monroe has led a life of adventure. She has traveled the world, gone skydiving, and won numerous medals for ...