Efforts to Address Health Disparities: A Multipronged Approach

Rachel Meyer
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In many ways, kidney disease is the poster child for health disparities in the United States. In 2012, African Americans were nearly four times as likely and Native Americans nearly twice as likely as whites to experience kidney failure (1). African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Alaska Natives are twice as likely as whites to have diabetes, the leading cause of kidney disease. The incidence of ESRD in people with diabetes is six times as high in Native Americans compared with the incidence in the general population of diabetes patients. Moreover, minority populations spend more time on the wait list for a kidney transplant and are less likely to utilize a home dialysis modality (2).

Addressing these health disparities was a top ASN Public Policy priority in 2014, and in 2015 the society will continue to prioritize efforts at the federal legislative, regulatory, and profession-sanctioned levels to raise awareness and reduce disparities. Table 1 depicts ASN’s efforts to integrate health disparities advocacy into every aspect of the society’s 2014 policy priorities. ASN endeavors to ensure that Congress, federal research funding agencies, and Medicare are aware of these discrepancies and take every opportunity to confront them on behalf of the millions of Americans who are at disproportionate risk for kidney disease or compromised access to kidney care.