KCP Members Head to Capitol Hill to Advocate for Improvements in Kidney Care

KCP Members Head to Capitol Hill to Advocate for Improvements in Kidney Care

June 13, 2022

An estimated 37 million US adults – 1 in 7 – have chronic kidney disease (CKD), and 90 percent of them have no idea. Furthermore, having diabetes and/or heart disease are major contributing factors leading to CKD. With tens of millions more adults at risk for developing CKD and a health care system inadequately prepared to deal with so many needing such specialized care, I’d say we have a crisis in kidney care, wouldn’t you?

Kidney Care Partners (KCP) and our member organizations are working hard to address this crisis. On Wednesday, June 15, KCP members from across the country will be on Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers to advocate for important changes and policy initiatives that will improve care for patients and continue to address the crisis at hand. Many more will join us for virtual meetings with representatives on Friday, June 17.

One piece of legislation we will be advocating for is the Chronic Kidney Disease Research and Treatment Act (S.1972/H.R. 4065). Key provisions of this legislation, proposed by KCP, would raise awareness of CKD while also improving understanding of the disease and expanding access to treatment. If passed, this legislation would:

  1. Increase access to the Medicare Kidney Disease Education Benefit: Expand the benefit to (1) allow dialysis facilities to provide kidney disease education services; (2) permit physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists, in addition to physicians, to serve as referral sources for the benefit; and (3) to provide access to these services to Medicare beneficiaries with Stage 5 CKD not yet on dialysis.
  2. Consolidate and Modernize Quality Programs: Improve patient decision-making and transparency by reforming how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services adopt measures used in the ESRD Quality Incentive Program (QIP) to ensure a parsimonious set of meaningful, valid, and reliable measures. It would eliminate contradictions between the ESRD QIP and Five Star programs.
  3. Expand the Medicare Annual Wellness Benefit: Add CKD screening to the benefit to allow Medicare beneficiaries at risk for kidney disease and kidney failure to learn if they have the disease and seek treatment to slow the progression toward kidney failure or better prepare for transplant or dialysis.

Congress must act now to pass these changes. While there are costs associated with implementing these important initiatives, the benefits far outweigh them. Screening alone would alert Medicare beneficiaries – the largest percentage of the population living with CKD – to the early onset of kidney disease and give them the time and treatments necessary to slow or even prevent the progression of the disease and the need for dialysis or transplant. Good for patients and good for the program.

We look forward to the opportunity to share the importance of these programs with lawmakers this week. This is an important step, but there is so much more to be done. Follow along and join us, won’t you?

Michele Kimball is the Executive Director of Kidney Care Partners.