Blog post

Our 2021 advocacy accomplishments, made possible by you

Despite the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Kidney Fund (AKF) was still able to successfully advocate throughout 2021 for policies that help improve the lives of those with kidney disease and living organ donors.
Infographic of AKF's 2021 advocacy related accomplishments

Despite the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Kidney Fund (AKF) was still able to successfully advocate throughout 2021 for policies that help improve the lives of those with kidney disease and living organ donors. Thanks to our Government Affairs team and the tireless advocacy of our wonderful network of more than 17,000 Ambassadors, AKF achieved some truly outstanding accomplishments last year:

More than 350 meetings with Congressional offices and more than 11,000 action alerts sent

Engagement with Congressional offices through meetings and action alert messages is critical for ensuring that your voices are heard. Fortunately, 2021 was a stellar year for connecting AKF Ambassadors with elected officials. In March, we held our second annual digital Kidney Action Summit. During the Summit, 35 AKF Ambassadors from 16 states safely met with their federal lawmakers' offices on Capitol Hill for a total of 50 meetings with Congressional staff, including 6 meetings with members of Congress in attendance.

In addition to the Summit, AKF Ambassadors also conducted 101 virtual in-district meetings with their local lawmakers' offices, forging important connections with Congressional staff and informing them of the needs of the kidney community. AKF staff conducted an additional 257 virtual meetings with Congressional offices in 2021.

In August, AKF introduced its new mobile advocacy network. Through this new tool, Ambassadors sent more than 11,000 action alert messages encouraging their lawmakers to support bills that would benefit those impacted by kidney disease. The mobile advocacy network is a quick and easy way to stay up to date about advocacy opportunities in your state, so you can take action on important issues. Through this tool, you can send emails and engage with your lawmakers on Twitter. Sign-up for the mobile advocacy network here, or by texting "KIDNEY" to 52886.

All these efforts led to increased support and cosponsors for AKF's priority federal bills:

The CARE for All Kidneys Act (H.R. 3893) would help create a create a national action plan and fund research and interventions for causes of kidney disease in underserved communities, including communities of color and rural communities. In 2021, five cosponsors signed on to the bill.

The Living Donor Protection Act (S.377 / H.R. 1255) would ensure living organ donors are protected from insurance discrimination and can take time off from work after organ donation surgery. In 2021, the bill gained 32 cosponsors in the Senate (S.377) and 102 cosponsors in the House (H.R. 1255).

The Jack Reynolds Memorial Medigap Expansion Act (H.R. 1676) would guarantee Medigap (Medicare supplemental insurance) coverage for Medicare beneficiaries under the age of 65 with kidney failure in all 50 states. In 2021, 34 cosponsors signed onto the bill.

48 bills passed in state legislatures

The 2021 state legislative sessions also produced many positive changes for living organ donors and people living with kidney disease. AKF was involved in the passage of 48 bills in 25 states, including seven bills that provide protections for living organ donors.These bills provide job-protected leave to living organ donors or provide employers with a tax credit if they provide employees with paid leave to recover from living organ donation surgery. These policies help to reduce barriers to living organ donation and make more organs available for transplantation. Additionally, three states passed bills to create a kidney disease prevention and education task force, and seven bills were passed that banned copay accumulators.

AKF staff and AKF Ambassador efforts at the state level included 120 meetings with state lawmakers in 48 states, and 32 state legislative hearings in which AKF staff or AKF Ambassadors provided testimony.

Get Involved in 2022

Interested in helping fight for positive change for the kidney community? There are a number of ways you can get involved. If you have not already done so, please text KIDNEY to 52886 to sign up for AKF text alerts. We will use this easy-to-use mobile platform for our state and federal advocacy efforts in 2022.

If you have friends and family who are interested in becoming AKF Ambassadors, please encourage them to sign up. If you are already an AKF Ambassador and are interested in participating in this year's Kidney Action Summit, be sure to apply before the February 14 deadline.

Thank you to all the AKF Ambassadors who made our 2021 accomplishments possible. We look forward to continuing our advocacy efforts with you this year and for many more years to come!

Authors

Kate Tremont

Kate Tremont is the associate director of government affairs at the American Kidney Fund.