Lawmakers seek bipartisan path for improving kidney disease care

Res. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) and Donald Payne, Jr. (DN.J.) touched on their own personal experiences with kidney disease on Tuesday as inspiration for seeking bipartisan solutions to patient care.

Payne said at The Hill’s “Chronic Kidney Disease: Forging Patient Centered Solutions” event that he receives dialysis treatment, adding that finding ways to alleviate people’s struggles with chronic kidney disease should not become a political battle.

“Kidney disease is not a partisan issue. It crosses across the aisle and back. We need to look at these things as human conditions and not make them political footballs,” the co-chair of the Congressional Men’s Health Caucus told The Hill’s Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack.

One way Congress can help advance kidney care is by expanding screening options and ensuring that everyone who needs kidney treatment has access to the right drugs, according to Payne.

“More screening is really the key to making sure we get to folks in time before they succumb to kidney disease and then subsequently need transplant,” Payne said.

“We will continue to do the work we need to do, but I’m always engaging in my colleagues on the other side of the aisle in reference to these situations because they are not partisan.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 15 percent of US adults — or about 37 million people — have chronic kidney disease.

Congress has already shown some bipartisanship when it comes to health care, as the House overwhelmingly passed legislation on June 8 that facilitates quicker Food and Drug Administration review of new drugs and technologies, expanding care options. Guthrie said he expects a negotiated version of this FDA Act will be signed into law by Aug. 1.

Guthrie, who said his son underwent kidney treatment for his kidneys, agreed that bipartisanship on this issue is possible, both now and in the future if the Republicans take control of the House after the 2022 midterm elections.

Guthrie said that telehealth services, which could increase at-home dialysis treatment for those with chronic kidney disease, should extend beyond the length of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Telehealth is one of those things we can sit down on in a bipartisan way,” Guthrie said at the event, sponsored by Bayer. “So our hope and objective is we’re going to have policies ready to go if we take the majority, and it’s going to have to be bipartisan.”

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