By Troy Zimmerman, Vice President of Government Relations
This week, the House Appropriations Committee is expected to approve legislation to fund the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through Fiscal Year 2020. Thanks to the dedicated work of NKF advocates across the country, the legislation includes key provisions to improve the lives of chronic kidney disease patients, living donors, and their loved ones.
To start, the bill dedicates $32 million for organ transplantation activities under the Health Resources and Services Administration, $10 million of which is specifically allotted for the National Living Donor Assistance Center (NLDAC) to help living organ donors with unreimbursed out of pocket travel expenses related to donation – that’s an increase of $6.5 million over last year’s total.
NKF worked closely with members of the Appropriations Committee to secure this unprecedented funding increase and rally bipartisan support for its inclusion. Ensuring that living organ donors aren’t left on the hook for travel expenses tied to their gift of life is a small but meaningful step toward encouraging more people to consider the selfless act of living organ donation.
The bill also secures a whopping $41 billion for the National Institutes of Health – a $2 billion increase over last year – including $2.1 billion for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
Additionally, the Committee provided $10 million for the KidneyX initiative – a public-private partnership to accelerate the development and commercialization of next-generation dialysis products (see NKF’s earlier praise of this program here).
Finally, the House bill promises $2.5 million in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Chronic Kidney Disease Initiative, while the HHS Million Hearts Initiative will receive $4 million. These levels are consistent with last year’s totals and NKF was proud to lead the charge in ensuring their continued support in this year’s legislation.
While this funding bill shows great promise for kidney patients nationwide, more work remains ahead. Following passage in the Appropriations Committee, the bill will head to a vote by the full House of Representations.
The Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to draft its version of this legislation, which will eventually have to be reconciled with the House bill. With your help, we will ensure that these gains for kidney care are upheld in the final bill that reaches the President’s desk.