Advocating for kidney patients during the COVID-19 emergency

It is critical—perhaps now more than ever—to build relationships with your elected officials during this coronavirus crisis. As they are passing laws and stimulus packages to help our nation during this difficult time, you can use your relationship with your lawmakers to make sure they are working toward policies that will help kidney patients at high risk for COVID-19.

Here are three things you can do to build a relationship with your lawmakers:

  1. Subscribe to your state and federal lawmaker’s emails. You can usually do this by going to their website – many lawmakers’ websites have a “subscribe” button where you can type in your email address to receive email updates directly from their offices about upcoming legislation and special events. If you cannot find a way to sign up for email updates on your lawmakers’ websites, you can call their office or email them to ask to be added to the list.

  2. Communicate with them through social media. Social media has become one of the best tools for reaching out to your lawmakers and letting them know your needs and concerns. Twitter is one of the best platforms for this since you can tweet directly at your lawmakers. You can also leave comments on their Facebook pages. If you don’t already have a Twitter and/or Facebook account, now is great time to set one up!

  3. Email them to let them know that you are interested in what they are doing (or not doing) on the issues you care about. You can send personal emails to most elected officials through forms on their websites. The more personal and unique your email is, the more likely it is to catch their attention. It can be especially impactful to share a story about your experience and how the actions of your lawmakers could impact you personally.

In addition to asking your elected officials to consider the needs of kidney patients when working to fight COVID-19, a relationship with your lawmakers now can also ensure that they are ready to work for policies important to you once this crisis is over.

At the American Kidney Fund (AKF), we have been in daily communication with federal and state officials to make sure kidney patients are being considered in their responses to the coronavirus. AKF has sent a letter to both House and the Senate members urging them to keep dialysis and transplant patients in mind and outlining the unique needs of kidney patients that can make COVID-19 a challenge for them. We have also signed on to multiple comment letters to Congress about important topics, like securing access to vital medications, removing barriers to testing and treatment for COVID-19, and protecting patients from surprise billing. AKF is also working with a large coalition of patient advocacy groups to encourage state officials to work for policies that ensure all patients can access testing and treatment for coronavirus with no cost-sharing, expanded access to telehealth services and medications, and protection from surprise billing.

You can find more information and resources for kidney patients by visiting our special coronavirus webpage at KidneyFund.org/coronavirus. AKF will update the page with important information for kidney patients and their caregivers as the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold.

Thank you for all you do for those fighting kidney disease. Together, we can ensure that lawmakers remember the needs of kidney patients while trying to put an end to this pandemic.

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About the Author

Kate Tremont & Melanie Kahn

Kate Tremont is the government affairs manager and Melanie Kahn is the director of state policy and advocacy at the American Kidney Fund.

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