Congress introduces legislation on improving access to kidney care
The U.S. House of Representatives has introduced legislation that would improve education options and promote access to treatment for kidney disease.
The Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act of 2019 (H.R. 3912) was introduced by Representatives John Lewis, D-Georgia, and Vern Buchanan, R-Florida, and is similar to legislation introduced in the Senate in May.
The bill “provides a clear roadmap for the future of kidney care and has the potential to empower and benefit millions of Americans with kidney disease,” Allen Nissenson, MD, chair of Kidney Care Partners (KCP), said in a press release.
According to KCP, the legislation would:
- increase access to the Medicare kidney disease education benefit for patients with CKD;
- require the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study on the current utilization of palliative care services in treating individuals with kidney disease;
- expand kidney care access in underserved areas by adding nephrology health professionals to National Health Service Corps Scholarship and Loan Programs;
- improve care coordination for individuals on dialysis by requiring hospitals to provide information to their dialysis providers;
- maintain an economically stable dialysis infrastructure while incentivizing innovation for new drugs, biologicals, devices and other technologies;
- improve patient decision-making and transparency by consolidating and modernizing quality programs; and
- guarantee access to Medigap policies to all ESRD beneficiaries, regardless of age or where they live.
KCP said the legislation aligns with ongoing efforts to expand and improve access to quality care, including the release of a new executive order by the Trump administration to increase focus and investment on the kidney disease epidemic nationwide. The administration’s goals align with KCP’s recently published Kidney Care FIRST Framework, which focuses on five major pillars: awareness and prevention; patient empowerment; quality; and access to quality care; and innovation and research.
“This is the first time in my 40-year tenure serving this community that we are seeing such close coordination and alignment among the White House, HHS/CMS, Congress and the entire kidney care community,” Nissenson said. “Between bipartisan legislation aimed at improving and expanding access to kidney care, an explicit call from the administration to improve kidney care delivery, a new roadmap to achieve improvements in kidney care nationwide, and ongoing public-private partnership collaborations necessary to achieve these ambitious goals, I believe the future is bright for individuals living with kidney disease, and kidney failure.”
Disclosure: Nisenson reports he is chief medical officer of DaVita Kidney Care.