It is more important than ever to let your elected officials know that kidney disease is an important issue to you.
It's visible in the numbers alone: 37 million Americans have kidney disease, and most of them don't know that they have it. Kidney disease is one of the top 10 causes of death in the United States — and it's time for our elected officials to make it a priority.
Nearly half of new cases of kidney failure are caused by diabetes, and about a quarter of the new cases are caused by hypertension. Nearly 810,000 Americans are living with kidney failure, also known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Of those, nearly 570,000 are on dialysis and nearly 240,000 are living with a kidney transplant.
Kidney failure is expensive for patients and taxpayers. In 2019, the most recent year for which figures are available, Medicare spending for ESRD beneficiaries was $51 billion. Only about 1% of Medicare beneficiaries have kidney failure, but Medicare's expenditures on these beneficiaries represent 7.2% of all Medicare spending.
There is much more that Congress can do to address kidney disease in the United States. We need more investment in research to find better treatments, more effective prevention and, someday, a cure. We need to protect living kidney donors, making it easier for them to give a kidney without worrying about getting time off work or having trouble getting life insurance later. We need to ensure that kidney patients have access to comprehensive and affordable health care. We need to fight health disparities.
Please email your members of Congress today and let them know that you are a kidney voter who urges them to take decisive action to help kidney patients.