8/2/04 - American Nephrology Nurses' Association (ANNA) Launches National Campaign to Educate Legislators About Kidney Disease

August 2, 2004

Contact: Janet D'Alesandro • (856) 256-2422



American Nephrology Nurses’ Association (ANNA) Launches National Campaign to Educate Legislators About Kidney Disease

Lawmakers around the country will visit dialysis units on August 13,

“ESRD Education Day.” Nurses will demonstrate the

urgent need for better patient care.

PITMAN, NJ - Just as a landmark bill to modernize the Medicare program for kidney disease moves front and center in Congress, nephrology nurses are mobilizing nationwide to educate legislators about patients who depend on dialysis to stay alive.

The American Nephrology Nurses’ Association (ANNA) has designated August 13, 2004 national “ESRD Education Day” and is inviting Congressional delegations in every state to visit their local dialysis units. Dialysis is a lifesaving treatment that the legislators’ constituents receive as Medicare beneficiaries under the government’s end stage renal disease (ESRD) reimbursement program.

Congress recently gave hope to the over 400,000 patients in the U.S. who suffer from kidney failure by introducing the “ESRD Modernization Act of 2004.” The bill (S. 2614) was introduced in the Senate on July 7 by Kent Conrad (N-ND) and Rick Santorum (R-PA); and in the House (H.R. 4927) July 23 by Dave Camp (R-MI) and Bill Jefferson (D-LA). The measure provides funds for education programs and creates incentives to improve the quality of patient care.

Legislators have acknowledged that the country’s ESRD program 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 with kidney disease unless Medicare is modernized.

“ANNA members have put their hearts and souls into helping legislators understand the importance of this issue,” said ANNA President Lesley C. Dinwiddie, MSN, RN, FNP, CNN. “The more we can educate them about our patients’ needs, the better prepared they are to vote on bills like the one that has just been introduced.”

ESRD Day is part of an ongoing effort to educate legislators and their staff members, according to Kathy Kuchta, BSN, RN, 2004 project coordinator. Although August 13 is the designated day, Kuchta said “ANNA organizers are flexible and will accommodate any legislator who wants to visit a dialysis unit in their district anytime during the year.”

During the tours, nurses will describe daily operations of the unit, outline the role of nurses and technicians, discuss kidney disease and treatment, and provide information regarding the number of dialysis units and number of patients served in the legislators’ districts. In addition, nurses will speak with the lawmakers about the effects of the nursing shortage and other challenges facing the renal community.

More than 400,000 Americans suffer from kidney failure, and a disproportionate number of patients are minority Americans. The rising numbers are attributed 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.

“The statistics demonstrate how urgent it is for Congress to act now,” Dinwiddie said. “We were so encouraged by the response last year that we knew this was a crucial project that should be conducted annually at both the state and national level.” She added that showing the legislators a fully-functioning dialysis unit helps them make better decisions with regard to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.

To supplement the tour, legislators will also receive ANNA’s ESRD Briefing Book for State and Federal Policymakers. The booklet presents in lay terms the basics of ESRD and includes information on underlying conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Statistics on incidence and treatment costs are also presented.

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

ANNA is a member of Kidney Care Partners www.kidneycarepartners.org, an alliance of patient advocates, dialysis professionals, providers, and suppliers working together to improve the quality of care for individuals with end stage renal disease.

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ANNA is a professional association comprised of more than 11,500 nephrology nurses. Its mission is to advance nephrology nursing practice and positively influence outcomes for patients with kidney or other disease processes requiring replacement therapies through advocacy, scholarship, and excellence.