Press Release

June 9, 2021
Cardin, Blunt Continue Fight for Chronic Kidney Disease Patients’ Access to Treatments

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) have introduced an updated version of the Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act (S. 1971), which builds on previous success in increasing access to services for chronic kidney disease patients. Legislation introduced Wednesday enhances care through new technologies, provides access to Medigap programs for all end-stage renal disease patients, expands the Medicare Annual Wellness Benefit to include kidney disease screening, protects dialysis patient access to Medicare Advantage plans, and requires a report on prevention and treatment patterns for at-risk communities disproportionately affected by kidney failure.

“With higher rates of diabetes and hypertension and poorer access to health insurance and medical care, communities of color develop end-stage renal disease at a faster rate than whites. This legislation bolsters preventive screenings for Medicare beneficiaries and will help with high out-of-pocket costs for treatment. Millions of Americans can benefit from new technologies that are changing outcomes for chronic kidney disease patients,” said Senator Cardin. “Without further changes to our health care system, those treatments remain out of reach physically and financially for too many. Our bipartisan bill can save lives and improve quality of life for millions.”

“Many Americans living with kidney disease aren’t able to afford or access treatments and specialty care that could significantly impact their health and quality of life,” said Senator Blunt. “I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation that will allow more patients to get the care they need.”

An estimated 37 million Americans live with chronic kidney disease, which can lead to kidney failure or end-stage renal disease (ESRD) – an irreversible condition that is fatal without a kidney transplant or life-sustaining dialysis. Nearly half of those are undiagnosed. ESRD is 3.7 times greater in African Americans, 1.4 times greater in Native Americans and 1.5 times greater in Asian Americans than white Americans.

“As the voice of the kidney care community, Kidney Care Partners (KCP) is a strong advocate for improvements in treatment and care options for people living with kidney disease, including through CKD, dialysis, transplant and post-transplant care,” said John P. Butler, Chair of KCP. “This important legislation aims to increase access to screenings, improve treatment education, expand care options, and encourage innovation.”

The Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act (S. 1971) also is supported by the American Kidney Fund, American Society of Pediatric Nephrology, Amgen, American Nephrology Nurses Association, AstraZeneca, Baxter, B.Braun, Davita, Dialysis Patient Citizens, Fresenius Medical Care, and Renal Physicians Association.

The full text of the Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act (S.1971) can be downloaded here. A section-by-section summary can be found here.