The Kidney Community’s Response to COVID-19

As the nation works to contain the COVID-19 virus, the kidney care community is working tirelessly to protect patients, care providers, and the communities we serve.

For the more than 37 million individuals living with chronic kidney disease (CKD), end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and kidney transplants, social distancing and avoiding medical facilities is not an option. These individuals are often vulnerable and have multiple disease conditions to manage and those with ESRD depend on multiple dialysis treatments per week, in most cases in-person, to survive.

Kidney care providers, who continue to care for their patients, are on the frontlines of care during this crisis. By maintaining current coordinated care programs for these individuals, providers can help patients avoid costly hospital re-admissions at a time when the healthcare system is overwhelmed by new COVID-19 cases.

Through resources for health professionals, emergency funds for those on dialysis, new stipends to support frontline care providers, educational materials for patients, collaborations among providers, and more, the community has jumped into action and stands ready to work with Congress and the Administration.

We urge Congress and the Administration to act quickly to protect individuals with CKD, ESRD and kidney transplants, as well as the caregivers who ensure dialysis facilities can remain operational during this emergency.

We are looking for regulatory relief and legislative action in the following areas:

Provide supplies and capacity support for providers to ensure the safe treatment of patients infected with COVID-19 and assistance for temporary locations, which is crucial to ensure containment of the virus.

Provide authority and resources for patient assistance to allow non-profit organizations and health providers to offer patient assistance services and provide grants to eligible non-profits to enhance COVID-19-specific programs.

Waive regulatory requirements that can delay patient care by waiving staffing ratios and patient transfer requirements.

Expand access to home dialysis by providing reimbursement for urgent-start peritoneal dialysis programs.

Facilitate home treatment options by providing Medicare Part D coverage for oral medications indicated by the FDA to treat conditions associated with CKD.

Delay the ESRD Treatment Choices Pilot Program while providers work to address the current crisis.

Provide financial relief to health care providers caring for patients on dialysis.

Recent media reports indicate that some state governments and health systems could resort to implementing crisis-management policies that could deprive certain patients – including patients with ESRD who rely on dialysis care – of life-saving interventions due to heightened demand for dialysis care and ventilators among COVID-19 patients.  

This potential prioritization of treatment for patients based on their health conditions has raised serious concerns in the kidney community.

KCP fundamentally opposes “triage policies” that include ESRD as exclusionary criteria for care. The more than 37 million individuals living with ESRD, CKD and kidney transplants have inherent dignity and worth regardless of functional ability or any other characteristic.

We commend and echo recent guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that all COVID-19 patients should be evaluated for treatment based on individualized assessment and circumstances, using the best available objective medical evidence - not broad and arbitrary care criteria.

Patient Resources

For many individuals living with CKD, ESRD, or a transplant, avoiding medical facilities is not an option. These individuals are often vulnerable and have multiple disease conditions to manage – and those with ESRD depend on multiple dialysis treatments per week to survive.

 

If you are an individual living with CKD, ESRD or a transplant, the CDC and members of the kidney care community have developed resources for you:

KCP Resources

Amid Escalating COVID-19 Pandemic, Nation’s Kidney Care Community Calls on Congress and the Administration to Help Protect Vulnerable Patients, Frontline Care Providers

KCP Statement on CMS’ Agreement to Classify Peritoneal Dialysis Catheters and Vascular Access As Essential Surgeries for Kidney Patients

KCP Letter to Congress Regarding the Legislative Action Need to Protect Kidney Community During the COVID-19 Crisis

Morning Consult Op-Ed: More Federal Help Is Needed to Address COVID-19 Crisis Facing Kidney Patients

KCP Letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar Regarding COVID-19 Efforts

KCP Letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma on COVID-19 Efforts

KCP Letter to Congress Requesting NIDDK Funding to Study the Impact of COVID-19

Media Inquiries

If you would like to speak to a KCP representative or member of the kidney community about our response to the COVID-19 crisis, please contact Sarah Feagan at sfeagan@schmidtpa.com.