ROCKVILLE, Md. (June 24, 2020) – The American Kidney Fund (AKF) today expressed deep concern about preliminary new data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) indicating that end-stage renal disease (ESRD, or kidney failure) patients and Black Americans had vastly higher rates of hospitalization for COVID-19.
"The new CMS data on COVID hospitalizations among Medicare patients is the tip of the pandemic iceberg," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF president and CEO. "Racial and ethnic minorities are already disproportionately affected by kidney failure, and the double-whammy impact of COVID on Black Americans and those with kidney failure requires an urgent response from the federal government."
According to the preliminary CMS data — which covers the period from January 1 to May 16--Blacks were nearly four times more likely than whites to be hospitalized with COVID-19, and Americans eligible for Medicare because they have ESRD had the highest COVID-19 hospitalization rate.
"It is absolutely urgent that we see all the data pertaining to the experience of minority populations with COVID-19, overlaid with chronic disease data to give us a full picture that will inform appropriate action to address the disproportionate impact," Burton said.
More than half the dialysis patients in the United States are under 65, though most of them qualify for Medicare because of their kidney failure. People of all races and ethnicities develop chronic kidney disease (CKD) at similar rates, but minorities, including Blacks and Hispanic/Latinos, are more likely to progress to kidney failure. This disparity is evident in the racial and ethnic makeup of the low-income ESRD patients who receive financial assistance from AKF, including those receiving help from AKF's Coronavirus Emergency Fund — most of those receiving grants are people of color.
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.