By Kevin Longino, CEO of National Kidney Foundation and kidney transplant patient
COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere yet, and neither are the health disparities which so adversely affect minority communities. It’s essential that we plan to protect kidney patients over the long-term and act now to affect real change.
Planning for the long-term
In a recent letter sent to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), NKF urged the Administration to consider extending and building upon the flexibilities and waivers they’ve put in place for kidney patients over the past few months to help keep them safe during the pandemic. We urged CMS to continue coverage for telehealth visits for all kidney patients, including transplant and dialysis patients, and allow patients to use any form of technology available to them for telehealth visits. We also urged them to provide coverage for at-home lab draws for kidney patients, transplant recipients and living organ donors, and also allow patients diagnosed with an acute kidney injury to receive home dialysis, instead of having to go to a center. These are all important for the long haul, until there is a coronavirus vaccine approved for immediate use.
The disproportionate risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 is something kidney patients have to live with every day and it’s critically important that we continue to protect them. This week, CMS issued guidance on the reopening of healthcare facilities and spelled out what patients should know. CMS advises kidney patients to continue to stay home, avoid crowds and self-isolate due to their increased risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19, which only further validates the concerns NKF has been advocating for on extending flexibilities and waivers.
The past two weeks have been challenging for our nation, but especially for our African American family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. Coupled with COVID-19, which has so disproportionately affected minority communities, the senseless racial violence over the past few weeks has significantly added to their burden. Last week, I shared NKF’s statement on racial violence and disparities. We continue to stand united in helping to overcome the health disparities that exist for all minority communities but know that we have a long way to go. We will need your help to ensure that all patients can access high quality care. Please consider becoming an advocate today and help us drive the necessary change.
Please continue to check our COVID-19 resource page where we post all the latest information on issues facing our community in English and in Spanish. If you have questions or need support, please contact our toll free patient information help line by calling (855) NKF-CARES, (1-855-653-2273) or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. And join our free online discussion forums.
Be well and stay safe.