ROCKVILLE, Md. (Dec. 4, 2023) — Today, the American Kidney Fund joined with other leaders in the kidney community on Capitol Hill to draw attention to the crisis in kidney disease and urge policymakers to support policies and guidelines that prioritize early detection and intervention of kidney disease.
Advocates who gathered Monday for a bipartisan briefing in collaboration with the Congressional Kidney Caucus called for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), which is charged with making preventive care recommendations for primary care clinicians and is currently reviewing evidence related to screening for chronic kidney disease (CKD), to update its guidance on CKD.
LaVarne A. Burton, AKF President and CEO, issued this statement:
"For more than 50 years, AKF has been focused on making meaningful changes to address the crisis in kidney disease and help people live healthier lives, with a particular focus on addressing the stark health disparities that exist.
"We thank Reps. Larry Bucshon and Suzan DelBene for their partnership as co-chairs of the Congressional Kidney Caucus and for their efforts on this critically important issue that affects an estimated 37 million Americans.
"About 9 out of 10 people with kidney disease don't know they have it, and tragically, kidney diseases are a leading cause of death and the fastest growing non-contagious disease in the United States.
"Along with the devasting impact kidney disease has on countless families in the United States, there is a staggering economic burden as well. In 2021, Medicare spending for end stage renal disease (ESRD) beneficiaries was more than $52 billion — 6.8% of total Medicare costs — though the ESRD population makes up about 1% of the total Medicare population.
"System-wide, we are missing out on the opportunity to significantly reduce the mortality and morbidity for hundreds of thousands of Americans by failing to screen, diagnose and treat patients. Providing upstream care can lead to a lifesaving diagnosis and limit disease progression.
"Too many people are going undiagnosed in earlier stages, when kidney disease is most treatable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 1 in 3 adults with advanced stages of kidney disease do not know they have it.
"We need data-driven, common-sense solutions to combat this devastating disease, such as policies that establish clinical assessment tools, enable proper reimbursement for preventive care, provide better access to innovative medicines, improve education for people living with kidney disease and their caregivers and support earlier, more complete diagnosis.
"We urge the USPSTF to recommend screenings for kidney disease for every patient known to be at higher risk, and specifically populations that have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
"Improving CKD detection and treatment will undoubtedly save countless lives. Our collective efforts today reflect our strong concerns on behalf of the millions of people with kidney disease and at risk for kidney disease, and the need for urgent action that will lead to earlier, life-saving interventions for ALL Americans.
"In the meantime, AKF will continue to work to empower people to better understand their risk of kidney disease, better manage kidney disease and have important conversations with health care professionals, through the development of tools and resources such as our Know Your Kidneys campaign and our Kidney Health Coach program and the continued efforts of AKF's Kidney Health for All™ initiative."
Reimagining kidney care: from crisis to opportunity: A white paper released in April 2023 from AKF that examines the crisis in chronic kidney disease and its enormous societal and economic burden. Using data from the U.S. Renal Data System, this analysis shows the significant opportunity for savings of more than $11 billion annually and provides three principles to guide policy action and create change.
A call for early diagnosis and treatment of chronic kidney disease: A November 2023 report from AKF developed as part of AKF's Patient Access Initiative (PAI), a multi-year effort to better understand and address ongoing health care access issues faced by people with and at-risk for kidney disease and their caregivers.
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.