Dialysis Patients Are Counting on Congress to Pass the Bipartisan BETTER Kidney Care

By Brendan Flanagan

As the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated headlines and airwaves over the past year and a half, immunosuppressed Americans have received special attention in our conversations about public health and healthcare policy. Now, even as vaccination rates climb, we need to continue to find ways to care for some of the most vulnerable Americans, including those right here in Arizona.

One group of immunosuppressed patients that hasn’t received enough attention, though, is patients with kidney disease. In Arizona alone, there are over 14,000 kidney disease patients receiving dialysis treatments. That’s over 14,000 friends and neighbors who desperately need our help. At a moment when our world is increasingly aware of public health issues, it’s especially important that we continue to identify ways we can help kidney patients and improve the way End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) is treated in the U.S. 

Right now, there’s a bipartisan bill introduced by Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) called the BETTER Kidney Care Act which could help. This bill could streamline how we treat kidney patients while also offering some other vital services that make their life-saving treatments more accessible. For some patients, it can also help better prepare them to eventually receive a kidney transplant. 

One of the bill’s main goals is to make coordinated care services – which are severely needed – more broadly available for ESRD patients. It’s common for ESRD patients to also have diabetes, heart disease, or other conditions in addition to their kidney disease, meaning they need to see a range of different doctors and care providers who prescribe different treatments and medications that may interfere with one another. Without an easy way for doctors to stay in touch with each other, it falls on the patient to make sure each doctor knows what the others are doing. 

With the coordinated care provisions of the BETTER Kidney Care Act, it will be easier for those doctors to get on the same page, which will help to improve overall care and ensure that all of a patient’s needs are being fully addressed. In the end, they’ll have fewer appointments to attend and spend less on medical bills. 

This bill does more than simply make it easier for patients’ doctors to communicate treatments and prescriptions, though. It also offers transportation to and from a dialysis patient’s local clinic. Since it’s difficult for many patients to get to and from their clinic without someone being there to assist them, these services make it easier for patients to keep up with their appointments and stay healthy, which is a major benefit considering most dialysis patients need to go into their clinic three or four times each week for exhausting treatments that can take several hours. 

Beyond transportation, it also notably provides dental care, something a lot of ESRD patients don’t otherwise have access to. It’s hugely important, however, for patients who are trying to get a kidney transplant. Offering dental care means that patients can be sure they’re remaining on track to receive a kidney transplant, which is already a difficult enough process. 

The BETTER Kidney Care Act is a crucial step toward improving the way we treat kidney patients in the U.S., and it’s encouraging to see lawmakers like Senator Sinema leading the way on this issue. Kidney patients in Arizona are counting on them and this life-saving bill. 

Dialysis patients need more attention in our discussions about healthcare policy, and the BETTER Kidney Care Act is where lawmakers should start. It’s promising for Arizonans that Senator Sinema helped bring this bill forward, but it’s not enough. Dialysis patients across America need our help, and it starts with Congress passing this crucial legislation.  

Martha McSally Releases a Volley of Political Ads

US Senator Martha McSally released a volley of political ads on YouTube Friday. Here are those ads:

Southern Arizona Machinations & Prognostications

Interesting predictions coming from our kindred-blogger in Southern Arizona, James Kelly at The Cholla Jumps. Here’s Jim’s latest post:

The weekend has heated up with rumors flying all over the place…. 

Political alliances are being formed and many being broken, The Tea Party and The Occupy Wall Street folks are actually agreeing on certain points.. 

The largest previous benefactor of the Pima GOP has taken back the reins of the party telling a moneyed audience ” I’ll take care of the party, you take care of the candidates..” 

The Pima Democratic Party begins to move away from the Progressive Socicalists, will Raul Grijalva and his machine survive the political purge? Will that political survivalist Chuck Huckleberry swing right? 

Ruth McClung comes roaring back, Clear Channel Communications will help redefine her as a centrist as she mulls support of Gabby Giffords/ Mark Kelly campaign. 

Is Sharon Bronson done, will Gabby Saucedo Mercer get a come to Jesus moment to run against her? 

Redistricting for the Congressional Districts are going to go to court, a federal judge will draw the lines for the 2012 races. But what about the Legislative Districts? Those will most likely stand. Who is in, who is out? Look for old LD 26 and 28 to be battlegrounds. 27 and 29 will continue to be safe for the Democrats. The old 30 will look similar to its present state with a few more Eastside Republicans packed in. 

The Dems and the GOPers are identifying their sacrificial races as I write. 

Jonathan Rothschild is out, Rick Grinell is in. Shirley Scott is looking to see what she wins from the machine after she loses her race. SunTran anyone? RTA Commissioner? The verdict is still out on Cunningham/Rawson match-up, as of today Rawson has the edge but Cunningham still has the family connections to give him something after his loss. Commissioner of Soccer/Sports Authority job? 

Rio Nuevo news is interesting. As the State takes back control of the TIF, look for a business consortium to buy the lease ( at a discount) from the City of Tucson for the Giffords Family Trust property at 22nd and I-10. Do’t want that thorny issue of taxpayer money funding a Gabby Giffords/ Mark Kelly campaign again.