Andrew Malone, MD, and Morgan Schoer, MD, WashU Nephrology, were among the 50+ advocates from the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) and the American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP) who met virtually with Capitol Hill lawmakers last month for the 2022 Kidney Health Advocacy Day (KHAD).
The event, now in its tenth year, allowed the medical community to impress upon the members of Congress the need for increased funding for kidney health research at National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), increased funding to accelerate innovation at KidneyX, and increased access to transplantation by protecting living organ donors through the Living Donor Protection Act.
“KHAD was quite a fun and new experience for me,” says Dr. Schoer, first-year renal fellow. “Hill Day, as some members refer to it, involved us meeting as a team with Congressional leaders and staff to advocate on behalf of kidney patients. We met with seven offices that represented Missouri and Iowa. This was just one group of many.”
Says Dr. Malone, “It went great. Our group included myself, Dr. Schoer, and Dr. Krista Lentine from the Saint Louis University transplant program. We were joined by an ASN advocate, and a patient from Iowa representing AAKP.” They engaged with the offices of local Congressional lawmakers Senator Roy Blunt, Representative Ann Wagner, Representative Cori Bush and Senator Josh Hawley.
The official “asks” of the KHAD were:
- A $632 million increase in funding for kidney health research at the NIDDK.
- A $25 million increase in funding for KidneyX to accelerate innovation and to continue the expansion of new researchers and innovation leaders coming into the field of kidney innovation.
- Support for legislative protections for living organ donors, insured and uninsured, and formalization of the 2018 U.S. Department of Labor decision to include living organ donors under the Family Medical Leave Act. If passed, the Living Donor Protection Act (H.R. 1255/S. 377) will remove longstanding life and disability insurance barriers to increase living organ donations.