Suzan DelBene (D)
WASHINGTON — Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives discussed the lack of progress in treatment for kidney disease and the need to “do better” at the KidneyX Summit.
“As you all know, it’s been more than 50 years since there was a major advancement in dialysis,” Rep. Suzan DelBene (D), representing Washington’s first congressional district and co-chair of the Congressional Kidney Caucus, said in a presentation. “Through the hard work and ingenuity of physicians and scientists who were committed to the idea that we can do better, we did; but that treatment of ESRD has largely gone unchanged, and the current care model is bankrupting Medicare and providing poor outcomes for patients.”
According to DelBene, Medicare spent $114 billion to treat CKD in 2016, which is more than a fifth of all Medicare fee-for-service spending. The NIH was allocated $39 billion which means, according to DelBene, if kidney disease were cured, the NIH would be funded three-fold. DelBene said she hopes KidneyX will be “what spurs meaningful innovation in the kidney space.”
Rep. Larry Bucshon, MD, (R), representing Indiana’s eighth congressional district, co-chair of the Congressional Kidney Caucus and member of the health subcommittee, said that one of his highest priorities is to ensure that policies enacted at the federal level have a positive impact on providers and patients. He noted that Congress has had some successes in recent years, including promoting and researching new treatments and care by increasing the NIH budget and passing the 21st Century Cures Act.
Larry Bucshon (R)
However, Bucshon said, “[T]here are a number of areas that need additional attention and focus, particularly CKD and ESRD, as they are a major driver in the cost of Medicare. We need to improve the way we treat the disease to improve patient outcomes and patient care and also help reduce costs to our system as a whole.”
“If you’re diagnosed with ESRD today, your treatment would be largely the same as it was when I was in medical school, and I went to medical school in the ‘80s,” he added.
This lack of advancement in treatment demonstrates a lack of focus on the disease during the last 3 decades, according to Bucshon. Bucshon said he is an “ardent supporter” of KidneyX because “we can, should and must do better” for patients with kidney disease.
Although, according to Bucshon, $25 million was requested, the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee recently advanced a bill that includes $10 million dollars for KidneyX for fiscal year 2020.
“That is a great start, but our work is far from over and we need to keep our foot on the gas and make sure this is included in the Senate appropriations bill,” DelBene said. “I hope you’ll join me in keeping up the pressure because innovation in this sector is sorely needed.” – by Melissa J. Webb
Buchson L and DelBene S. Congressional Perspectives. Presented at: KidneyX Summit. April 29-30, 2019; Washington.
Disclosures: Healio/Nephrology was unable to determine relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.