To The Editor:
March is National Kidney Month, which is a time when communities across the country raise awareness about kidney disease. One in three Americans are at-risk for kidney disease. 37 million people have kidney disease, and most do not even know it. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or a family history of kidney failure, you are at risk for developing kidney disease.
As a living kidney donor and the National Kidney Foundation’s 2020 Richard K. Salick Award winner, I also want to take this opportunity to update our community about what has been happening on the advocacy front.
In December, after decades of advocacy efforts by the kidney community, Congress passed legislation that expands Medicare coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for transplant recipients. This landmark legislation ensures that patients on Medicare can afford the lifesaving medication they need following a transplant indefinitely, instead of the three-year cap previously in place that left patients to pay for the gap in coverage on their own. A special thank you goes to Congressman Donald Norcross for helping make this happen.
More great news in advancing living donation: the New Jersey legislature recently passed the Living Donor Protection Act, and I am confident Governor Murphy will sign the bill sometime this month. This would not have been possible without support from Gloucester County Commissioner Heather Simmons, a recent kidney recipient, and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who helped guide the bill through the state senate. The bill will prohibit discrimination against living organ donors for life, health, and long-term care insurance.
Both of these pieces of legislation will improve lives and save money. If you would like to become an advocate for kidney disease, join us at advocacy.kidney.org. During March, if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity or family history of kidney disease, please speak to your doctor or go to MinuteForYourKidneys.org to take a one-minute quiz to find out if you are at risk.