By Troy Zimmerman, Vice President of Government Relations and Tonya Saffer, Senior Health Policy Director
Last week, we blogged about our accomplishments in 2014. Now, we want to outline our commitment to advancing policies that improve kidney care and the lives of kidney patients throughout 2015 and the 114th Congress.
In line with the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) 2013-2018 strategic plan and in conjunction with NKF’s national and local efforts to help all people at risk and with different stages of kidney disease, in 2015 we are committed to working to advance government policies as they pertain to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease.
- During National Kidney Month in March, we will lead a movement, together with other kidney patient organizations, to bring a unified voice and sense of urgency to Capitol Hill. Approximately 100 kidney patients and their caregivers, 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’s help to improve kidney care in America.
- We will continue to advocate for kidney transplant recipients to receive immunosuppressive drug coverage under Medicare for the life of their kidney transplant.
- We will advocate for protections for living organ donors and to remove barriers to living donation. For example, we will continue to advocate against policies that allow insurance companies from denying or limiting life, disability and long term care insurance. Additionally, we will advocate for protections that prohibit insurers from charging higher premiums to living organ donors. We will also advocate that living organ donors be granted time off through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to recover from transplant surgery.
- We will work with the federal government and state governments to ensure kidney patients have better access to health insurance in the private market. We also will advocate for stronger government intervention to stop plans from engaging in discriminatory practices such as charging kidney patients higher cost sharing on vital medications and limiting coverage of dialysis and transplant care. Additionally, we will request that the government employ stronger oversight to ensure that Marketplace health plans offer patients access to healthcare practitioners that are conveniently located and provide high quality care.
- We will work with Congress, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and other federal agencies on strategies to improve early detection of kidney disease, for better education and self- management programs for kidney patients, and to actively support NKF’s Chronic Kidney Disease Primary Care Initiative.
- We will be a champion for dialysis patients’ continued access to patient-centered, high quality, and affordable dialysis care, and to ensure that dialysis patients have the same Medicare options that other Medicare beneficiaries have, such as access to Medicare Advantage plans.
- We will advocate for a stronger government focus and greater funding for kidney disease research.
- We will support our friends in the diabetes community to advance Medicare coverage of the diabetes prevention program so that more seniors will have access to a program that has been proven to reduce diabetes and prevent kidney failure.
- Last, but certainly not least, we are steadfast in our commitment to make life-saving healthcare services such as transplantation and dialysis accessible and to confronting the struggle that results from high out-of-pocket costs for services and medications.
Most importantly we will work directly with you – patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals – to achieve our goals and get direct input on the challenges you face. We are dedicated to these priorities and ask that you help support us by joining our advocacy efforts. We recognize we cannot do this alone. We need your continued input and support and the help of other like-minded organizations dedicated to improving kidney care in America. Start off the new year helping us by introducing or reintroducing yourself to your Federal Representatives and Senators and reminding them about the impact kidney disease has on America and on you personally. Customize and send a simple email – don’t forget to share your own kidney story.