ASN and ASPN Host Kickoff Reception for the Congressional Kidney Caucus

On Wednesday, March 20, 2013, ASN and the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology (ASPN) hosted a reception on Capitol Hill to launch the activities of the Congressional Kidney Caucus in the 113th Congress. Co-chaired by Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), the bipartisan Congressional Kidney Caucus was founded by Rep. McDermott and former Representative, now Senator, Mark Kirk (R-IL) in March 2002 to raise awareness in Congress about the prevalence and burden of kidney disease and advance kidney patient health.

This year, the Caucus is focusing on increasing the visibility of kidney disease in Congress and advancing kidney patient health initiatives, including:

The “Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act of 2013” (H.R. 1438 / S. 323) that would extend Medicare coverage for immunosuppressive drugs over a recipient’s lifetime—protecting Medicare’s investment so no patient ends up back on dialysis after losing a transplant.

Rebasing ESRD bundled payments for costs associated with each dialysis treatment in a way that is good for patients and fair for providers.

Promoting home dialysis as a safe and convenient alternative to in-center treatment for certain patient populations.

Co-sponsors of the reception included the American Association of Kidney Patients, American Kidney Fund, Dialysis Patient Citizens, Home Dialyzors United, National Kidney Foundation, and Renal Physicians Association. Nearly 100 people attended the event, including congressional staff, professors and medical researchers from top academic institutions, and professionals from patient and health professional organizations.

Both Rep. Marino—a two-time survivor of kidney cancer—and Rep. McDermott—who represents the “birthplace of modern dialysis,” Seattle, WA—spoke at the reception about the important role patients, their caregivers, and advocates play in calling attention to and building support for these issues. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) also attended the reception and gave moving speeches about family members and members of their communities affected by kidney disease, and the responsibility of the public to ensure patients receive the best care.

Co-Chair Rep. Jim McDermott hands the podium over to his colleague and Kidney Caucus member Rep. Charlie Rangel.

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Co-Chair Rep. Tom Marino speaks about his personal experience with kidney cancer.

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Kidney Caucus member Rep. Elijah Cummings and ASN Public Policy Board Chair Thomas H. Hostetter, MD.

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ASN Manager of Policy and Government Affairs Rachel Shaffer and American Kidney Fund Executive Director LaVarne Burton.

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American Society of Pediatric Nephrology Washington Representative Katie Schubert and member Jonathan Heiliczer, MD.

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May 2013 (Vol. 5, Number 5)