On March 7- 8th, 2012, twenty NKF patient and family advocates gathered in Washington, D.C. to increase their congressional delegations’ awareness of Chronic Kidney Disease. Five NKF staff members participated in the two-day event as well. This was one of the most impressive and diverse group of advocates we have brought to Congress. It included four dialysis patients (three on in-center hemo, one on peritoneal dialysis), six kidney transplant recipients, four living donors (including two non-directed donors), and two chronic kidney disease patients, and four family members of CKD patients.
The advocates, selected from over 175 applicants to NKF from across the country, were joined by approximately 100 others at the 7th annual World Kidney Day Congressional Reception on March 7th. Six Members of Congress, including Congressional Kidney Caucus Co-Chairs Reps McDermott (D-WA) and Marino (R-PA), attended the reception and gave encouraging remarks to the participants. The event also featured special guest Lorenzo Alexander from the Washington Redskins, a strong and tireless spokesperson for the NKF at many of our local events.
The NKF advocates attended meetings in more than 80 House and Senate offices, at which they discussed a diverse variety of issues including Medicare immunosuppressive drug coverage for kidney transplant recipients; funding for the Chronic Kidney Disease program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and payment for oral drugs under Medicare’s bundled payment system. Within the week following these successful meetings, Senator Boxer (D-CA) and Reps. Capps (D-CA) and Cohen (D-TN) agreed to cosponsor S. 1454 and H.R. 2979 to extend Medicare coverage of immunosuppressive drugs. We anticipate having continued success convincing more Members of Congress to sign on to this legislation in the coming weeks.
We have been in frequent contact with many of the advocates since the fly-in and they remain very eager to help move our issues forward. We are already looking forward to World Kidney Day 2013, where we hope to be able to host our greatest number of advocates ever!