ROCKVILLE, Md. (Feb. 27, 2020) — Building on a year of important policy advances benefitting kidney patients, the American Kidney Fund (AKF) today outlined a robust public policy agenda for 2020 designed to make more kidney transplants possible, provide equitable access to health insurance, and drive innovation in research and treatment.
AKF's 2020 policy agenda incorporates the goals of Trump Administration's Advancing American Kidney Health initiative, announced last July: increase efforts to prevent, detect, and slow the progression of kidney disease; provide kidney patients with more options for treatment; and increase the number of kidney transplants. In addition, AKF is supporting public policy that ensures patient choice and access to health insurance and health care, including Medigap for all kidney failure patients under 65; further investments to spur research and innovation in kidney disease; and preservation of essential safety-net programs such as Medicaid for low-income Americans.
"The recent elevation of kidney disease to a national priority by the Administration underscores the urgency with which policy makers, patients, advocates and the entire kidney community must work together this year and each year to tackle this urgent threat to our nation's public health," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF president and CEO. "By bringing the patient voice to policy-making, AKF provides essential insights into the very real hardships that Americans living with kidney disease — especially those of limited means — face every day in their struggle to stay alive."
Together with its nationwide Advocacy Network of more than 14,000 Ambassadors, AKF engaged state and federal policymakers in 2019 to advance legislative priorities that promise to improve the lives of Americans living with kidney disease:
- Nine states — Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Kansas, Oklahoma and Oregon — enacted legislation spearheaded by AKF to protect living organ donors from insurance discrimination, provide guaranteed job-protected leave, and/or provide other incentives to remove obstacles to living organ donation. AKF is working to pass similar legislation in 15 states in 2020.
- The Living Donor Protection of Act of 2019--H.R. 1224/S. 511, with nearly 100 bipartisan cosponsors, was introduced to protect living organ donors from insurance discrimination and provide guaranteed job-protected leave. AKF will continue to encourage lawmakers to sign on as cosponsors and to bring this bill to a vote in 2020.
- Federal legislation to extend the period of Medicare coverage for immunosuppressive drugs for transplant patients under age 65 (Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2019--H.R. 5534) and to guarantee access to Medigap supplemental insurance for end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients under 65 (Medigap Consumer Protection Act of 2019--H.R. 1394/S. 2428) was introduced address gaps in the Medicare ESRD Program. AKF supports these bills which are vital to kidney patients and also fiscally sound.
- Increased federal funding for kidney disease research and funding for the Kidney Innovation Accelerator project (KidneyX) helped drive innovation in 2019. AKF will continue to fight for adequate funding to needed to continue to advance kidney disease research and treatment.
- When the California legislature passed the anti-charitable premium assistance bill, AB 290, AKF challenged that law in the courts along with the patients it serves in California and received a preliminary injunction preventing the law from taking effect until the case is decided. AKF will continue to fight efforts by health insurers to force ESRD patients off their insurance rolls, ensuring that patients have the right to receive charitable premium assistance if they cannot afford to pay their premiums.
About the American Kidney Fund
The American Kidney Fund (AKF) fights kidney disease on all fronts as the nation’s leading kidney nonprofit. AKF works on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions more at risk, with an unmatched scope of programs that support people wherever they are in their fight against kidney disease—from prevention through transplant. With programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy, no kidney organization impacts more lives than AKF. One of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, AKF invests 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, earning the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for 20 years in a row as well as the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly GuideStar.