ASN President Anupam Agarwal, MD, FASN, meets with President Donald Trump

By ASN Staff

March 18, 2020

Calling attention to the unique needs of kidney patients in the COVID-19 Pandemic and advocating for specific policy changes to meet those needs was ASN President Anupam Agarwal, MD, FASN’s focus during a meeting Wednesday afternoon with President Donald Trump. The meeting also included Vice President Mike Pence, US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar, JD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, MD, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, and Coronavirus Response Coordinator Ambassador Deborah Birx, MD, as well as representatives from 15 other medical professional societies.

During the meeting, Dr. Agarwal raised the unique challenges facing the kidney health community while caring for the 37 million Americans living with kidney diseases, particularly the approximately 200,000 immunosuppressed kidney transplant patients and the 500,000 patients receiving dialysis three times weekly, and offered recommendations to address their needs during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Agarwal.jpg“Based on Wednesday’s discussion, the administration is serious about this response,” said Dr. Agarwal. He added, “I was impressed with the way President Trump opened conversation, directly addressing the value of the contribution to the COVID-19 response made by our members and the thousands of other health professionals as healers with a gravity fitting this pandemic.” Dr. Agarwal noted that after he raised the importance of elevating the needs of kidney patients given their vulnerability to COVID-19, the president and other senior administration officials made a specific point to emphasize that the voice of ASN and other medical professional societies is critical in shaping and guiding the national response to COVID-19.

Chief of among these concerns was the need to prioritize testing for COVID-19 among dialysis patients and people with kidney transplant, and to increase supplies of both COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment (PPE) as quickly as possible to kidney patients and kidney health professionals working on the frontlines of the pandemic. Dr. Agarwal highlighted the urgent need for tests and PPE to mitigate further spread of COVID-19 among kidney patients, who are particularly at risk for the disease.

ASN and the 15 other medical professional societies raised a number of further actions that the federal government can take to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the wide-ranging set of proposals that ASN is also advocating that the federal government implement are the need to establish regulatory flexibility to improve the safety of and access to dialysis care by rapidly bringing new outpatient units online and re-designating certain inpatient units as outpatient, further expanding of telehealth by temporarily adding new codes for the care of patients with kidney diseases to the list of Medicare-approved telehealth services, allowing telephonic interactions to “count” for telehealth reimbursement (instead of videoconferencing), and pursing both short-term innovation opportunities to support patients and health professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as longer-term opportunities to enhance our nation’s capacity to meet the unique needs of kidney patients in future emergency situations.

During the meeting, the administration provided further clarification that telephonic interaction would be permitted and reimbursed as part of the emergency telehealth expansion, and announced that 31 million N-95 masks would be made available soon as part of a partnership with a major PPE manufacturer. Dr. Agarwal supported this clarification.White_House_DC.JPG

Dr. Agarwal also shared the numerous activities ASN has undertaken to inform and support kidney health professionals during the pandemic, including the formation and actions of the ASN COVID-19 Response Team, which includes members from the ASN Nephrologists Transforming Dialysis Safely (NTDS) Current and Emerging Threats Workgroup, the ASN Emergency Partnership Initiative (led by former HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Nicole Lurie, MD, and Chief Medical Officer [CMO] of The Rogosin Institute, Jeffrey Silberzweig, MD), and staff from the newly formed excellence in patient care team.

To-date, the COVID-19 Response Team has—in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—hosted a webinar providing an overview of new CDC guidance Information for Screening and Management of COVID-19 in the Outpatient Dialysis Facility, viewed nearly 10,000 times; compiled and disseminated FAQs on the screening and management of COVID-19 in outpatient dialysis facilities, including through a “Twitter chat” on COVID-19 and kidney diseases; and organized a regular call with the CMOs of the majority of dialysis organizations to share experiences and collaborate on response.

ASN will continue to work with the administration, kidney champions in Congress, the rest of the kidney community, and other stakeholders to ensure all Americans living with kidney diseases and the thousands of kidney health professionals providing their care receive the support they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. ASN will continue to inform the kidney health community of developments in this space, as well as provide the most current scientific and clinical knowledge to address the care of kidney patients in the context of COVID-19.

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Calling attention to the unique needs of kidney patients in the COVID-19 Pandemic and advocating for specific policy changes to meet those needs was ASN President Anupam Agarwal, MD, FASN’s focus during a meeting Wednesday afternoon with President Donald Trump. The meeting also included Vice President Mike Pence, US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar, JD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, MD, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, and Coronavirus Response Coordinator Ambassador Deborah Birx, MD, as well as representatives from 15 other medical professional societies.

During the meeting, Dr. Agarwal raised the unique challenges facing the kidney health community while caring for the 37 million Americans living with kidney diseases, particularly the approximately 200,000 immunosuppressed kidney transplant patients and the 500,000 patients receiving dialysis three times weekly, and offered recommendations to address their needs during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Agarwal.jpg“Based on Wednesday’s discussion, the administration is serious about this response,” said Dr. Agarwal. He added, “I was impressed with the way President Trump opened conversation, directly addressing the value of the contribution to the COVID-19 response made by our members and the thousands of other health professionals as healers with a gravity fitting this pandemic.” Dr. Agarwal noted that after he raised the importance of elevating the needs of kidney patients given their vulnerability to COVID-19, the president and other senior administration officials made a specific point to emphasize that the voice of ASN and other medical professional societies is critical in shaping and guiding the national response to COVID-19.

Chief of among these concerns was the need to prioritize testing for COVID-19 among dialysis patients and people with kidney transplant, and to increase supplies of both COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment (PPE) as quickly as possible to kidney patients and kidney health professionals working on the frontlines of the pandemic. Dr. Agarwal highlighted the urgent need for tests and PPE to mitigate further spread of COVID-19 among kidney patients, who are particularly at risk for the disease.

ASN and the 15 other medical professional societies raised a number of further actions that the federal government can take to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the wide-ranging set of proposals that ASN is also advocating that the federal government implement are the need to establish regulatory flexibility to improve the safety of and access to dialysis care by rapidly bringing new outpatient units online and re-designating certain inpatient units as outpatient, further expanding of telehealth by temporarily adding new codes for the care of patients with kidney diseases to the list of Medicare-approved telehealth services, allowing telephonic interactions to “count” for telehealth reimbursement (instead of videoconferencing), and pursing both short-term innovation opportunities to support patients and health professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as longer-term opportunities to enhance our nation’s capacity to meet the unique needs of kidney patients in future emergency situations.

During the meeting, the administration provided further clarification that telephonic interaction would be permitted and reimbursed as part of the emergency telehealth expansion, and announced that 31 million N-95 masks would be made available soon as part of a partnership with a major PPE manufacturer. Dr. Agarwal supported this clarification.White_House_DC.JPG

Dr. Agarwal also shared the numerous activities ASN has undertaken to inform and support kidney health professionals during the pandemic, including the formation and actions of the ASN COVID-19 Response Team, which includes members from the ASN Nephrologists Transforming Dialysis Safely (NTDS) Current and Emerging Threats Workgroup, the ASN Emergency Partnership Initiative (led by former HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Nicole Lurie, MD, and Chief Medical Officer [CMO] of The Rogosin Institute, Jeffrey Silberzweig, MD), and staff from the newly formed excellence in patient care team.

To-date, the COVID-19 Response Team has—in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—hosted a webinar providing an overview of new CDC guidance Information for Screening and Management of COVID-19 in the Outpatient Dialysis Facility, viewed nearly 10,000 times; compiled and disseminated FAQs on the screening and management of COVID-19 in outpatient dialysis facilities, including through a “Twitter chat” on COVID-19 and kidney diseases; and organized a regular call with the CMOs of the majority of dialysis organizations to share experiences and collaborate on response.

ASN will continue to work with the administration, kidney champions in Congress, the rest of the kidney community, and other stakeholders to ensure all Americans living with kidney diseases and the thousands of kidney health professionals providing their care receive the support they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. ASN will continue to inform the kidney health community of developments in this space, as well as provide the most current scientific and clinical knowledge to address the care of kidney patients in the context of COVID-19.

Date:
Wednesday, March 18, 2020