6/21/07 - American Nephrology Nurses' Association to Educate Legislators about Kidney Disease


Information: Janet D'Alesandro

(856) 256-2422; janetd@ajj.com


American Nephrology Nurses’ Association to Educate Legislators about Kidney Disease

 Lawmakers across the country will visit dialysis and transplantation

 facilities during ‘ESRD Education Week’ in August.

Pitman, NJ – With kidney disease rising steadily and more Americans needing life-saving care, the American Nephrology Nurses’ Association (ANNA) is intensifying its efforts to educate the country’s policymakers during “ESRD Education Week,” August 6-10, 2007.

ANNA is now inviting legislators and their staff members to visit their local dialysis units, transplant centers and chronic kidney disease clinics. During the tours, the nurses will describe daily operations, the roles of nurses and other health care providers, end stage renal disease (ESRD) and other kidney-related risks and treatments. The nurses will also provide information about patients and facilities in the lawmakers’ districts.

This year will be the fifth for the campaign, and organizers have increased the number of invitations and types of facilities for tours, according to ANNA’s 2007 ESRD Week Advisor, Mary Houglum, RN. Officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are also invited this year.

“We’ve expanded our outreach for 2007 because legislation for reimbursement for dialysis services is so crucial for quality care,” Houglum said. While the House of Representatives did approve a one-year, 1.6% composite rate increase in Medicare for dialysis services last year, Houglum explained that costs continue to rise for caregivers, lab tests, technologic advances, education and other services.

“Twenty million Americans suffer from kidney disease and the number of new patients has doubled each of the past two decades,” Houglum said. “When legislators visit the facilities, hear these statistics and meet patients, they recognize what’s at stake and the importance of their vote on bills related to kidney disease.”

In addition to the designated week in August, ANNA also welcomes legislators and staff throughout the year to accommodate their schedules, Houglum said. To date, the campaign has educated almost 450 lawmakers and won a national award from the American Society of Association Executives for advocacy and innovation.

More information about ESRD Week is available on ANNA’s Web site, www.annanurse.org, “Events.”

About ESRD Week

To supplement tours of kidney facilities, legislators receive ANNA’s ESRD Briefing Book for State and Federal Policymakers. The booklet presents the basics of ESRD in lay terms and includes information on underlying conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Statistics on incidence and treatment costs are also presented. When the nurses meet with lawmakers they also broaden the discussion to include the effects of today’s nursing shortage and other challenges facing the renal community.

The ESRD campaign has been a success from the beginning. Last year, 88 Congressional members or their aides participated across the country, including visits from 23 members of key congressional committees. In addition, 19 state legislators and 12 state or city officials took part in tours, with 7 cities issuing ESRD Week proclamations. In total, 42 facilities across 30 states participated in the campaign.

Of the millions of Americans who suffer from kidney disease, over 400,000 experience kidney failure. The rising number of people with the disease, many of whom are minorities, is attributed in part to the country’s obesity epidemic, an alarming trend that has led to more cases of diabetes and high blood pressure. Both of these diseases are major contributors to kidney failure.

“Nephrology nurses are ideal educators for the legislators because they are the on the frontlines of kidney treatments and care intensively for patients every day,” said ANNA President Sandra Bodin, MA, RN, CNN. “ANNA is extremely proud of the results of this campaign and the direct impact it has had on patient lives.”

Historically, reimbursement for dialysis treatment has not kept pace with the rest of Medicare, Bodin said. ANNA participates in a broad range of advocacy efforts to ensure that legislation keeps pace with patients’ needs and climbing incidence rates.

As part of its activities, ANNA is a member of Kidney Care Partners (KCP), a nationwide alliance of patient advocates, dialysis professionals, providers and suppliers who work to improve the care of people with kidney failure (www.kidneycarepartners.org). KCP collaborates with ANNA on ESRD Education Week, along with the DaVita Patient Citizens, the Renal Physicians Association (RPA), and WeKan, a patient activist group.

For more information about ESRD Week or to download the ESRD booklet, visit ANNA’s Web site, www.annanurse.org.


ANNA is a professional nursing association with over 12,000 members.Its mission is to advance nephrology nursing practice and positively influence outcomes for patients with kidney disease through advocacy, scholarship, and excellence.