AKF develops kidney section for the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic shining a bright light on structural inequities in our country’s health system, it has never been more important to develop legislation to create better and more equitable health outcomes for all Americans. The American Kidney Fund (AKF) has been working to address health inequities for years to ensure that kidney patients are not left out of legislation that could help fix these important problems.

We are proud to announce that, thanks to our efforts, a new kidney section has been added to the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2020 (HEAA). A version of the HEAA is introduced in every Congress, and the 116th Congress version was introduced in the House at the end of April by Congressman Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (IL-04) and the Congressional Tri-Caucus, which includes the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

The HEAA is an ambitious bill that covers a wide variety of the root causes of health disparities and ways to close the gap in health outcomes in minority populations in the U.S. The bill focuses on high-impact diseases in minority communities, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and now kidney disease as well. To address kidney disease, the HEAA proposes:

  • Requiring increased research into kidney disease in minority populations and the inclusion of minority participants in clinical trials.
  • Developing an action plan from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) around public health strategies, prevention, diagnosis, disease management and awareness of kidney disease. Development of this plan would include participation from patients, caregivers and health professionals, among others.
  • Requiring the NIH to develop a national action plan to increase access to home dialysis.
  • Supporting and expanding research into kidney transplant rates in minority populations.
  • Supporting research into the environmental and occupational causes that contribute to kidney disease, which will eventually lead to the development of public health strategies to lessen the impact of these causes.
  • Conducting a study on treatment patterns based on insurance type (Medicare, Medicaid, private insurers) in minority populations and examine how these impact patients’ access to care.
  • Adding dialysis to the definition of primary care services, which would increase patients’ access to care in underserved areas.

Members of AKF’s Government Relations staff helped to develop these policy solutions in this important bill and worked to ensure that kidney disease was specifically added as a disease that significantly impacts racial and ethnic minorities. Adding kidney disease to the HEAA means that improved awareness, health outcomes, early detection, linkage to care and treatment for kidney disease would be addressed. By tackling not just kidney disease but also cardiovascular disease and diabetes, two of the leading causes of kidney disease, this bill has the potential to improve outcomes for minority kidney patients nationwide and could even lead to prevention and earlier detection of kidney disease in minority communities.

Help support the HEAA

You can learn more about AKF’s efforts to address health disparities in our blog post about the social determinants of health. AKF’s vision is “a world without kidney disease,” but until that vision is fully realized, we believe that every kidney patient should have access to the health care they need, and every person at risk for kidney disease should have the knowledge necessary to prevent it. By supporting legislation like the HEAA, we come one step closer to achieving these goals.

You can ask your member of Congress to support the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2020 by taking just two minutes to send them a message through our website. Your voice matters in ensuring that the needs of kidney patients are considered by lawmakers who are addressing important issues like health disparities.


About the Author

Kate Tremont

Kate Tremont is the government affairs manager for the American Kidney Fund.