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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact:
Tenee Hawkins
Senior Director of Communications and Marketing
404.658.1423
thawkins@kidneyfund.org

American Kidney Fund Supports Bi-partisan Legislation to Improve the Research, Treatment and Care of Chronic Kidney Disease

ROCKVILLE, MD (July 16, 2014) —The American Kidney Fund today announced its support for the Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act (H.R. 4814), a vital piece of legislation that will improve the health of Americans who are living with, or at risk for, chronic kidney disease and kidney failure.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a serious condition affecting 31 million Americans, with millions more at risk. More than 615,000 Americans are living with kidney failure (also called end-stage renal disease, or ESRD). There is no cure for kidney failure; the only treatment options are dialysis or transplantation. There are a limited number of kidneys available for transplantation, and so most Americans with kidney failure depend on dialysis treatment for life-sustaining care.
 
Introduced by Reps. Tom Marino (R-PA) and John Lewis (D-GA), H.R. 4814 takes a multi-pronged approach to addressing the impact of kidney disease on the nation’s health. The legislation will improve coordination of federal research into kidney disease and kidney failure. It will improve access to home dialysis, managed care, and coordinated care options, enabling dialysis patients to lead the most productive lives possible. And it will provide economic stability for the Medicare ESRD program, which funds treatment for more than 80 percent of U.S. dialysis patients.

“By focusing on research, access to treatment, and fiscal challenges facing the Medicare ESRD Program, this legislation will make a real difference in the lives of millions of people—those who are affected by kidney disease, and those who are at risk,” said LaVarne A. Burton, president and CEO of the American Kidney Fund. “The American Kidney Fund has long advocated for many of the key provisions contained within this legislation. We applaud Representatives Marino and Lewis for introducing this bill, and we strongly support it.”

Key provisions of H.R. 4814

Clinical research is essential to advancing the care and treatment of kidney patients. H.R. 4814 calls upon the Government Accountability Office to identify gaps in current CKD research efforts and establish an interagency coordinating committee to improve the coordination of federal CKD research.
 
Because kidney failure disproportionately affects minority populations, the bill also directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to study and report on: the social, behavioral, and biological factors leading to kidney disease and kidney failure; treatment patterns associated with providing care to minority populations; and efforts to slow the progression of kidney disease in minority populations.

H.R. 4814 calls for measures that would expand patients’ access to treatment options. It would expand access to home dialysis services, and it would create stronger incentives for nephrology professionals to work in underserved rural and urban areas. It would also expand access to the Medicare kidney disease education benefit. This benefit provides Medicare-funded kidney disease education services to people who have late-stage CKD but are not yet on dialysis.
 
The legislation would provide dialysis patients access to managed care and coordinated care programs.  Under the legislation, kidney failure patients would be able to access Medicare Advantage plans, which may offer more benefits and lower co-pays. The legislation would permanently reauthorize ESRD Special Needs Plans, which offer tailored benefits, provider networks, and drug formularies to meet the needs of individuals with kidney failure.
 
The legislation would direct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to resolve some longstanding issues with the way Medicare reimburses providers for dialysis treatment, changes which would help to ensure economic stability for the program.

The bill would also allow individuals with ESRD who have private group health insurance to remain in their current plan for up to 42 months after diagnosis of kidney failure before Medicare takes over as primary insurance. This would be 12 months longer than is permitted under existing law.

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About the American Kidney Fund

The American Kidney Fund fights kidney disease through direct financial support to patients in need, health education and prevention efforts. It leads the nation in charitable assistance to dialysis patients. Last year, more than 87,000 people—1 out of every 5 U.S. dialysis patients—received assistance from the American Kidney Fund for health insurance premiums and other treatment-related expenses. The American Kidney Fund reaches millions of people annually through its national campaign, Pair Up: Join the Fight to Prevent Kidney Disease; free kidney health screenings; health education materials and courses; online outreach, and a toll-free health information HelpLine (866-300-2900). For more information, visit www.kidneyfund.org.

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