U.S. Congressional Kidney Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) recently requested a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to review the state of federal investments in kidney research. Obtaining a congressional request for a GAO report on this topic is the cornerstone of ASN’s aggressive new Research Advocacy Strategic Plan to bolster support for more federal kidney research funding.
In addition to assessing the adequacy of investments in kidney research compared to the cost of kidney care, Rep. Marino asked the GAO to identify areas of kidney disease knowledge gaps, as well as recent scientific advances that are most likely to improve patient outcomes and reduce care costs for people on dialysis.
“As a kidney cancer survivor, I care deeply about the millions of Americans affected with kidney disease—including the more than 16,000 Pennsylvanians on dialysis—and want to ensure they receive the best possible care. This is possible only through smart, adequate investments in the most promising areas of research,” Rep. Marino said.
An ASN analysis revealed that total federal investments in kidney research are less than 1 percent of what Medicare spends on the cost of care for the more than 20 million Americans with a chronic kidney disease diagnosis (approximately $650 million for kidney research vs. $80 billion in Medicare expenditures). The analysis also revealed that kidney disease ranks near the bottom of the list of research investments per patient by the National Institutes of Health—the largest funder of medical research in the world.
“Considering the significant public health burden to patients, families, and Medicare, a GAO report will help the kidney care and scientific community better understand where investments in research can make the biggest gains for our patients and the American public,” ASN President Sharon M. Moe, MD, FASN, said. “Rep. Marino’s support in requesting the report is a prime example of his longstanding commitment to the kidney community and is one of the many, many reasons I am proud to present him with the 2014 ASN President’s Medal. Together with his Kidney Caucus co-chair, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), who is also receiving the 2014 ASN President’s Medal, Rep. Marino is a tremendous advocate, and I commend his leadership.”
Kidney Care Partners (KCP), a broad coalition of dialysis providers, patient groups, and health professional organizations dedicated to advancing patient care, supported ASN’s goal of obtaining the report and also backed a provision in a comprehensive kidney care bill directing the GAO to commission the report.
“KCP supports research that improves patient care and outcomes. Kidney disease afflicts millions of people, and I suspect the GAO report will conclude what the kidney community already suspects, that kidney research is underfunded,” said KCP Chairman Edward R. Jones, MD. “I want to recognize ASN in particular for its advocacy on behalf of the report, and to especially thank Rep. Marino for submitting the request.”