What’s Ahead for Kidney Policy in Congress in 2022

January 13, 2022, 3:32pm EST

The second year of the 117th Congress will be book-ended by unfinished business from 2021 and midterm elections this fall. In between, NKF and our Voices for Kidney Health advocate community will be working hard to ensure pressing patient needs are addressed by federal lawmakers.

In the early part of 2022, Congress will be finishing up the previous year’s appropriations process and beginning next year’s appropriations process. Last year Congress failed to reach agreement on a final budget, so we’ll be watching to see how Congress navigates the unfinished appropriations from last year and begin this year’s process at the same time. In both processes, NKF will be advocating for more funds for critical kidney awareness, education, and research programs.

In last year’s House budget, we were pleased to see that our persistent advocacy led to a $2 million increase in funding for the Chronic Kidney Disease Initiative at CDC. Unfortunately, the Senate version did not follow suit, though it did include beneficial language for kidney patients and kidney research.

We’ll keep pushing to combine the money from the House version and the positive language from the Senate version into the final bill for the last fiscal year. For the next fiscal year, we’ll also be asking for a $15 million increase to the CKD Initiative at CDC, as well as a substantial increase to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to help fund more robust kidney research.

Beyond appropriations, NKF has three legislative priorities at three different points in the process:

  • A federal Living Donor Protection Act (S 377 / HR 1255)
  • Improving Access to Home Dialysis Act (HR 5426)
  • A forthcoming bill to address racial disparities in transplantation

Protecting Living Donors and Expanding Access to Home Dialysis

Thanks to our advocates, our federal LDPA is looking strong with many cosponsors in both the House and Senate. We want to keep up that momentum by scheduling a hearing in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. That is the next procedural hurdle for the bill and would increase the likelihood that it’s included in a year-end package, much like our Immuno Bill that was passed in a year-end bill during the previous Congress.

We are also excited to continue raising awareness around our home dialysis legislation and adding new cosponsors. Introduction of a Senate companion to the already-introduced House version is anticipated this spring.

Addressing Disparities in Transplantation

NKF is proud to be actively engaging advocates and stakeholders in the creation of a bill to address racial and ethnic disparities in transplantation. While it is still a work in progress, our goal is for it to address the social determinates of health barriers that may prevent a patient from progressing successfully through the transplantation process, and also provide additional data transparency throughout the transplant community, from referral through evaluation to transplantation and recovery.

This is a new bill that is very early in the drafting process, so our goal for 2022 is get the legislation finalized, find Members of Congress to be original sponsors, and get it introduced before the end of the year to establish it as a priority for the kidney community going forward.

From August on, the entire House and a third of the Senate will be focused on re-election. Legislating won’t stop entirely, but it will be harder to get Congress’s attention until after the midterm elections. Post-election, there will only be a brief period to finish all their work for this Congress, so hopefully that will lead to a year-end package similar to the one we used to pass Immuno in 2020. Provided we are able to get an E&C Hearing on LDPA earlier in the year, we will try to attach it to anything moving at the end of year.

These bills represent a full agenda for 2022 and one that with the help of advocates like you we can make a reality. Please bookmark our Voices for Kidney Health action page and visit regularly to help move our agenda forward.

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