By Adam Jardine, Kidney Outreach Team advocate and NKF of Wisconsin Board Member
Today marked my first time attending the Kidney Patient Summit on Capitol Hill. I am so proud of the difference my fellow advocates and I made by educating our legislators and their healthcare policy staff about kidney disease and the challenges we all face.
I met with the offices of five members of the Wisconsin delegation and was heartened to see the support many of them showed. Even more heartening was witnessing the impact our stories and message had on those we met with and seeing the change it made in how they understood the devastating effects of kidney disease. To be able to offer them solutions to these problems that they are considering has been incredible.
As I walked through the halls of Congress, I was astonished to see so many of my fellow advocates, so easily identifiable by their orange scarves, walking between their own meetings and even dropping by those offices that we could not schedule meetings with so that they could make that extra effort to try to meet yet another legislator’s healthcare staff. The energy and purpose was astounding and helped further my belief in the difference that National Kidney Foundation’s volunteers and advocates can truly make when we work together!
I was thankful to have the opportunity to hear the Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex. M. Azar II speak to us on Monday about the significant value in our patient advocacy efforts, the importance of helping the kidney community and the work that HHS is doing to improve outcomes for kidney patients and transform kidney care. I was honored that he chose our Summit to make his policy announcement about moving to a value-based healthcare system.
I was and remain proud to have joined the ranks of the many advocates in Washington today and hope to come back next year. I know, because of what I learned and experienced, that I will continue to advocate for better kidney disease policies at home and recruit as many of my friends and colleagues into our mission as I can.
As I post this, I am also excited that I will have the opportunity at the Congressional Reception this evening to recognize a long-time supporter of kidney patients and champion of the effort to extend Medicare’s coverage of immunosuppressive medication, Rep. Ron Kind from my home state of Wisconsin! He is truly an amazing man and friend. I will also get to meet Congressman Posey (R-FL), who will also be honored as a long-time supporter of our community and the National Kidney Foundation of Florida for more than a decade. He has always gone the extra mile to help us both in Congress and in Florida with fellow patients, something we greatly appreciate!
Thank you to everyone at the National Kidney Foundation for giving me the opportunity to become an advocate in Washington this week.