117th Congress: Short on Time but Not on Kidney Policy Opportunities

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Congress is staring down a significant number of legislative backlogs as it begins the 2022 calendar year. Congress must still finalize fiscal year (FY) 2022 appropriations before FY 2023 appropriations negotiations can commence, confirm the heads of both the US Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, and confirm a Supreme Court justice to replace retiring Justice Breyer, all with mid-term elections fast approaching this fall. But, there is cause for genuine optimism among the kidney community, as improving kidney health through transformative regulatory and legislative action continues to receive robust bipartisan support

Congress is staring down a significant number of legislative backlogs as it begins the 2022 calendar year. Congress must still finalize fiscal year (FY) 2022 appropriations before FY 2023 appropriations negotiations can commence, confirm the heads of both the US Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, and confirm a Supreme Court justice to replace retiring Justice Breyer, all with mid-term elections fast approaching this fall. But, there is cause for genuine optimism among the kidney community, as improving kidney health through transformative regulatory and legislative action continues to receive robust bipartisan support from the Biden administration and both chambers of Congress.

ASN is hoping to capitalize on the momentum of recent kidney policy wins, including working with federal stakeholders to implement new value-based care models, prioritizing COVID-19 vaccination for people with kidney failure in dialysis facilities and for patients who are immunosuppressed, passing legislation to provide immunosuppressive drug coverage to kidney transplant patients, increasing transparency and accountability in organ donation, securing $15 million in funding for Kidney Innovation Accelerator (KidneyX) to increase innovation in kidney health, and promoting improved methods of diagnosing kidney diseases that increase equity.

In an effort to create a world without kidney diseases, ASN engages kidney health professionals, the kidney health community, and stakeholders across the federal government to embrace the four priorities of the “We’re United 4 Kidney Health” campaign:

  • INTERVENE EARLIER to prevent, diagnose, coordinate care, and educate

  • TRANSFORM TRANSPLANT and increase access to donor kidneys

  • ACCELERATE INNOVATION and expand patient choice

  • ACHIEVE EQUITY and eliminate disparities

The ASN Policy and Advocacy Committee and the ASN Quality Committee used the campaign's four priorities as guiding principles when identifying the following kidney policy priorities for 2022 and beyond:

  1. Bolstering federal support for appropriate screening of people at risk for kidney diseases, including revising the outdated US Preventive Services Task Force screening recommendations

  2. Increasing equity in access to transplant care and the availability of donated organs, including but not limited to increasing transparency and accountability in donation, reducing organ discards, and ensuring metrics used to evaluate transplant centers and transplant candidates are patient centered and promote organ access

  3. Urging Congressional investment in increased funding for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to fund research on estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) with new endogenous filtration markers and on interventions to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities

  4. Ensuring patient access to new drugs and devices by improving and clarifying the processes by which Medicare adds new products to the dialysis bundled payment

  5. Championing the We’re United 4 Kidney Health campaign by galvanizing the nephrology community around four principles for the future of kidney care

  6. Investing in making home dialysis an option for more patients, including implementing the recommendations of the ASN Home Dialysis Task Force, advocating for home assistance and remote patient-monitoring opportunities, as well as addressing the nursing shortage

  7. Raising awareness about the promise of new classes of preventive kidney medications and addressing patient access issues

  8. Advocating for $25 million for KidneyX to support the Artificial Kidney Prize and other prize competitions to continue to drive innovation in kidney health

  9. Calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to improve upon the Strategic National Stockpile to ensure it meets the needs of people with kidney diseases in future emergency situations

  10. Upholding government agencies to greater data transparency

To achieve these kidney policy goals, ASN will concentrate on educating and building support for new concepts that improve the diagnosis of kidney diseases, building a growing coalition of kidney champions in Congress and the Biden administration, and collaborating with the broader kidney community, including individual patient and professional organizations.

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