October 5-9 is Primary Care Week. To support the vital role primary care practitioners play in our overall health, Representatives David Rouzer (R-NC) and Joe Courtney (D-CT) launched the Congressional Primary Care Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s imperative that the Caucus has a robust membership that recognizes the importance of primary care in detecting and managing treatment for the 26 million Americans who have chronic kidney disease (CKD).
While Congress was in recess during the month of August, our Kidney Action Committee (KAC) liaisons took advantage of this opportunity to meet directly with their congressional delegations and staffs in their district offices to advocate for the issues important to them. More than 20 meetings were held throughout the country. On the agenda? Emphasizing the importance of federally funded health programs such as Medicare, which provides dialysis coverage for most Americans with kidney failure, and stressing the need for increased funding for kidney disease research through the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
Liaison Bill Murray (in orange), Marielle Van Thuyne (NKF) and Steve Tornone (Gift of Life) with Senator Carper’s staff (l) – Delaware
Kidney Advocates (L to R): Charles Cranford, AAKP; Jonathan Aponte; Nieltje Gedney, Home Dialyzors United; Kevin O’Brien, Alport Syndrome Foundation
NKF and members of our Kidney Action Committee joined forces with the Kidney Community on Capitol Hill today to ask Congress to cosponsor the Living Donor Act of 2015 and to invest more funds in research for kidney disease.
The stats are startling. Over 26 million individuals have chronic kidney disease (CKD). Medicare spends more than $87 billion caring for individuals with CKD. Yet, federal funds for kidney research total just short of $600 million. It’s more important than ever that Congress act to ensure that funding for kidney disease research is increased. You can help support this effort now by emailing your members of Congress. Together, we can prevent and, one day, cure kidney disease!
The National Kidney Foundation is celebrating a victory today after the FDA published (.pdf) a proposal to make it easier to identify biologic drugs by adding a four-letter suffix to the non-proprietary (generic) name. Making a “generic” version (biosimilar) of a biologic drug is more complex than a typical generic drug. What does this mean for patients? Even small changes in the manufacturing process can potentially lead to side effects in some patients not found with the original biologic drug. It is therefore important to patient safety to make sure that clinicians, pharmacists and patients can easily determine which biosimilar is being used. The assigning of a unique name to each biosimilar will aide in this awareness. Continue reading
In a recent New York Times Opinionator piece, “Fixes: It’s Time to Compensate Kidney Donors” (August 7), the author encourages compensation and incentives for kidney donors. The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) firmly believes that paying for organs isn’t the answer since there are effective, proven methods to increase donation that are currently underutilized.
NKF supports increasing the availability of organs and believes kidney transplantation is the most cost effective treatment in the long term. Accordingly, NKF has worked with Congress consistently for many years to address extending Medicare immunosuppressant transplant medications to cover the life of the transplant.
NKF’s Chief Medical Officer speaks at a briefing with Congressional staff members on Capitol Hill
“Kidney disease is not dialysis; dialysis is a treatment for kidney failure,” said Dr. Joseph Vassalotti, the National Kidney Foundation’s (NKF) Chief Medical Officer, at a briefing with Congressional staff members on Capitol Hill earlier this week.
Dr. Vassalotti’s comments come at a time when lawmakers on the Hill and policymakers at Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are focused on treatment and payment for end-stage kidney disease care in the United States.
By Troy Zimmerman, Vice President, Government Relations, NKF
The members of NKF’s Kidney Action Committee (KAC) were eager to roll up their sleeves and get going in their new roles. First up, our liaisons were asked to draft letters to the editors of their local papers to raise awareness about the need for increased research funding for kidney disease. Our goal was to highlight the importance of investing in research and programs to improve early detection of kidney disease, slow progression and improve access to kidney transplantation. This is a cost-effective strategy with the power to save lives, kidneys and money. Continue reading
We’re pleased to announce that the 21stCentury Cures Bill has passed in the House of Representatives with a 344-77 vote. The bill guarantees increased NIH funding over five years and will ensure greater investment in research, including research on kidney disease.
Here are some of the key provisions that were included in the 21st Century Cures Bill: Continue reading
By Troy Zimmerman, Vice President, Government Relations, NKF
Call your U.S. Representatives and ask them to vote yes on H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act. While no provisions specific to kidney disease are included in the 21st Century Cures legislation, this bill sets the stage for addressing barriers to develop treatments and potential cures for diseases where therapies are currently limited – such as they are for kidney disease. The bill also increases research funding for the National Institutes for Health (NIH), where important research for kidney disease is conducted and funded under the National Institutes for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
Not many people know that healthy kidneys and healthy hearts are intrinsically linked. In fact, a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins University and funded by the National Kidney Foundation found that kidney function can be a better predictor of heart attacks and strokes than standard cholesterol and blood pressure tests.
This is yet another reason why we need greater awareness of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and a concerted effort by primary care practitioners to test for CKD among those at highest risk – including individuals with diabetes, hypertension, age over 60, and a family history of kidney failure.
Because the kidney-heart connection is so important to overall health, the National Kidney Foundation has partnered with the Million Hearts Initiative – a coalition of groups and individuals working to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. We encourage you to read NKF’s commitment to the Million Hearts Initiative.
You can also help us save kidneys, hearts, and lives. Raise awareness among the general public about the importance of our kidneys by sharing our EverybodyPees campaign with your social media network. This campaign highlights the important role of urine screening to keep kidneys, and hearts, healthy. You can also sign up for our Advocacy Action Center to be alerted to opportunities to let your Members of Congress know how they can help drive greater prevention of kidney disease, which will also help us reduce heart attacks and strokes for years to come.