6/23/06 - American Nephrology Nurses' Association's National Campaign to Educate Legislators About Kidney Disease


Information: Janet D'Alesandro

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


American Nephrology Nurses’ Association’s National Campaign to Educate Legislators About Kidney Disease

Nephrology nurses are inviting lawmakers to visit dialysis and transplantation facilities during “ESRD Education Week” in August. The visits will help the legislators make informed decisions about key bills.

Pitman, NJ – The American Nephrology Nurses’ Association (ANNA) is educating Congress one legislator at a time with personal invitations to visit dialysis and transplantation facilities and learn more about kidney disease during “ESRD Education Week,” August 7-11, 2006.

The national campaign about end stage renal disease (ESRD), now in its fourth year, has snowballed over time thanks to the efforts of ANNA’s nurse volunteers and the heightened interest of hundreds of lawmakers who have participated so far.

“The legislators are usually shocked when they hear that 20 million Americans suffer from kidney disease,” said ANNA President JoAnne Gilmore, BSN, RN, CNN. “Then they find out that the number of new patients has doubled each of the past two decades, and they realize the bills they vote on will have a huge impact on millions of people.”

Gilmore said ANNA’s campaign has paid off. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives approved a one-year, 1.6% composite rate inflation adjustment for 2006 within the Medicare reconciliation package for dialysis services. The increase will help cover higher costs for caregivers, lab tests and other services.

ANNA is now inviting state and Congressional delegations to visit their local dialysis and transplantation facilities during the designated week in August. The nurses also welcome legislators and their staff members throughout the year to accommodate schedules, according to ESRD Week Project Coordinator Kathleen Kuchta, BSN, RN. More information about ESRD Week is available on ANNA’s Web site, www.annanurse.org, “Events.”

About ESRD Week

During the tours, nurses describe daily operations of a dialysis or transplantation facility, outline the role of nurses and the entire multidisciplinary care team, discuss kidney disease and life-saving treatments and provide information about the number of treatment facilities and patients served in the legislators’ districts. In addition, nurses speak with the lawmakers and their staff members about the effects of the nursing shortage and other challenges facing the renal community.

To supplement the tours of the dialysis facilities, legislators also 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.

The ESRD campaign has been a success from the beginning. Last year, policymakers or their aides visited 57 facilities in 24 states. In 2006, the nurses will continue to focus on the “Kidney Care Quality and Improvement Act” (S.635/H.R.1298) as it winds its way through the House and Senate. The bill, which was introduced in March 2005, addresses many key issues including reimbursement. It also advances quality care to Americans with kidney disease before they suffer complete organ failure and increases awareness in local communities.

Legislators have acknowledged that reimbursement for dialysis treatment has not kept pace with the rest of Medicare and that the existing ESRD program won’t be able to support the projected increase in patients unless it is reformed.

“When you look at the patient statistics, then add those to the shortage of professional nurses and other allied health care workers, you will see how crucial these bills are for chronic kidney disease patients and professional nurses,” Gilmore said.

In 2005, ANNA was named to the Associations Advance America Honor Roll for its ESRD Education Week campaign. The Honor Roll is a national awards competition sponsored by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), in Washington, DC, honoring organizations that help advance American society through innovative projects.

ANNA is also 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). In 2005, KCP asked to collaborate with ANNA on ESRD Week, as did the DaVita Patient Citizens, the Renal Physicians Association (RPA), and WeKan, a patient activist group. Joining forces with these organizations has allowed ANNA to help expand the campaign’s reach, Kuchta said, with an even greater response expected from legislators in the future.

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.

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 processes requiring replacement therapies through advocacy, scholarship and excellence.