Though the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is pleased with our advances this past year to ensure kidney patient perspectives were considered and included in policy decisions, we are hard at work on our 2016 priorities. Below are our objectives for the remainder of the 114th Congress and the 2016 legislative year.
- March is National Kidney Month, and on March 7-8th, NKF will lead a movement with other kidney patient organizations to bring a unified voice and sense of urgency to Capitol Hill. With the NKF Kidney Action Committee – and other kidney patient advocates – we will raise awareness about kidney disease by educating Members of Congress, sharing personal stories about what it is like to live with kidney disease, and asking for Congress to pass legislation that will make it easier for health care providers to catch and manage chronic kidney disease (CKD) earlier and improve access to kidney transplants for people with kidney failure.
- Our #1 priority this year is to push the Senate Finance Committee’s Chronic Care Working Group to include NKF recommendations for addressing early detection and management of kidney disease by supporting primary care practitioners’ ability to care for people with CKD.
- We will continue to advocate for improved access and affordability of immunosuppressive drugs. This issue is more important than ever as a new study, funded by the National Kidney Foundation, found that many insurance plans in the healthcare exchange marketplace are pushing the cost of immunosuppressive medications to patients.
- We will also continue to ensure health plans do not discriminate against ESRD patients by limiting benefits, charging higher cost sharing for treatments, or employing other practices that limit ESRD patients’ ability to maintain private coverage should they choose this option.
- NKF supports and advocates for legislative efforts that prohibit life, disability, and long-term insurance companies from discriminating against living donors and extend employment protection to donors through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
- Increased appropriations funding for important kidney related programs is essential. This includes the CDC’s CKD surveillance program, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) kidney disease initiatives, and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases’ budget.
- We will continue to seek the passage of the CKD Improvement in Research and Treatment Act (R. 1130/S. 598). This legislation gives individuals with ESRD the option to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan; improve access to kidney disease education services; and establishes an ESRD Care Coordination program at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to improve Medicare payments to providers.
- As diabetes is a leading cause of kidney disease, NKF supports the diabetes community in their efforts to improve Medicare coverage of the diabetes prevention program. This will grant more Americans access to a program that has been proven to reduce diabetes and prevent kidney failure.
We urge you to join our efforts by signing up for our Advocacy Center updates, and applying to become part of our Kidney Action Committee. By sharing your experiences and giving a voice to kidney disease, you are a powerful ally in our fight to improve the lives of kidney patients across the U.S.