Let’s Make 2019 a Year to Remember for Kidney Care in America!

January 28, 2019

When the calendar turned over to 2019, I had to do a double take. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since our kidney care community formally came together as Kidney Care Partners (KCP)! It’s been a decade and a half of collaboration, innovation, legislation and measurable improvements in the lives of Americans with kidney diseases.

It’s seems like yesterday, but also a lifetime ago. In 2004 when KCP was formed, there were many challenges for people with kidney disease. Mortality rates were on the rise, outcomes were poor, and providers were struggling to keep pace with the imperative to provide access to quality care to the growing numbers of Americans who needed it. We were losing ground in our battle against kidney disease and kidney failure – and the community took on a great responsibility to stem the tide.

And here we are, 15 years later. Thanks to the dedication and commitment of KCP’s patient advocates, providers, health care professionals, and manufacturers and others working with policymakers and our various partners, the tide has certainly turned.

Reflecting on Our Success

The amount we’ve been able to accomplish is enormous and far reaching.

Fundamentally, we have been leaders in achieving great outcomes for some, but true health equity for all afflicted with kidney disease, amid national circumstances that don’t make that an easy task. While delivering high-quality clinical outcomes to all patients – regardless of race, gender or income – we have simultaneously broken barriers in terms of outcomes.

In many cases, these improvements mean Americans living with kidney disease and kidney failure are healthier and living longer. In fact, because individuals with kidney failure who rely on dialysis care have enjoyed greater access to high-quality care, there have been 134,769 fewer hospital admissions and a 28 percent decrease in the mortality rate for dialysis patients.

Healthier patients are able to lead more satisfying, productive, fulfilling lives that they desire and deserve. Further, healthier patients and reduced hospital admissions are also good for Medicare’s bottom line. Thanks to the reduction in hospitalizations of dialysis patients, for example, Medicare saved $1.6 billion in 2015 alone according to a data analysis by Discern Health – savings which we hope to grow in coming years.

And, of course, we can’t overlook the fact that, today, dialysis providers are better able to care for the needs of individuals with kidney failure – thanks in part to a crucial market basket update that has offered economic stability and predictability so that facilities can innovate, maintain highly trained staffs, enhance choices in care, improve therapies and focus on identification of early kidney disease and slowing its prevention as well as encouraging transplantation.

I could write volumes on the tremendous progress we’ve made but suffice it to say that the future is brighter because of KCP’s commitment and dedication to individuals with kidney disease, kidney failure and transplants.

Looking to the Future

If anyone had told me 15 years ago that our community would be in the position, we’re in now, I wouldn’t have believed them. But here we are. We’ve clawed our way out of troubling times, and we have a foothold toward shaping the future of kidney care. What will the next 15 years bring?

As we move into 2019, KCP is committed to decreasing mortality and hospitalization rates even further so that individuals with kidney disease and kidney failure will continue to enjoy quality time with their loved ones. We know that research and innovation – like new care delivery models and supporting the KidneyX initiative – are key to the future.

And we want to ensure individuals have a choice in insurance coverage — whether Medicare, private insurance, group health insurance, or any other option — that best meets their needs. Whatever coverage they elect to have should be comprehensive, and adequately cover necessary drugs and therapies including medications that are needed for a life-time if a patient has a transplant.

To achieve these goals and a bold agenda moving forward, we are focused on increasing access to living organ donations and innovative treatments, ensuring that diagnoses are made earlier so patients with CKD have more time for treatment, and advancing policies to promote education, awareness and prevention.

We have accomplished so much and I’m confident we’ve barely scratched the surface. So, as we ring in 2019, thank YOU for being part of this amazing community. May we all enjoy a prosperous year of improving the lives of our friends, families and individuals with kidney disease.