DPC held its annual Congressional Advocacy Day on September 21st, which was another great success! More than a hundred and fifty DPC Patient Ambassadors, Board members, staff and dialysis partners participated in nearly 200 Congressional meetings throughout the day to lobby on two important federal bills that would provide greater financial security and improve the quality of life for dialysis patients:
- The Jack Reynolds Memorial Medigap Expansion Act (H.R. 1676) would expand guaranteed issue rights to Medicare supplemental health insurance policies, known as Medigap, to all End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) patients under age 65 in every state. Access to Medigap helps ESRD patients pay for expenses not covered by Medicare, such as the 20% coinsurance payments and deductibles, and enables more patients to qualify for the kidney transplant waitlist.
- The BETTER Kidney Care Act (R. 4942/S. 2649) would give providers better tools to coordinate care for treatment of kidney disease, so that patients have better health outcomes and lower health care costs.
DPC advocates across the nation met virtually with Members of Congress and their staff to express support for both bills and to explain how each bill would positively impact the physical and financial health of dialysis patients and their families.
One notable change from last year was the format in which the Congressional meetings took place. In 2020, our Congressional meetings were converted to conference calls because it wasn’t safe to travel to Washington, DC, to meet in person due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We opted for a remote “fly-in” again this year since the pandemic is still ongoing, only this time we used the Zoom web platform which allowed meeting participants to see one another on the computer somewhat like an in-person meeting, while still offering a phone option for participants who didn’t have web access or who preferred to participate by phone. The virtual tech platform we used to coordinate meetings also allowed participants to share highlights from their meeting discussions and to send thank you notes directly to the Congressional offices of whom they met with.
DPC’s annual Advocacy Day is a terrific opportunity for dialysis patients to interact directly – whether in-person or virtually – with elected officials and staff to share their experiences and elevate the patient voice. Natasha Russell, a Patient Ambassador from Oklahoma who has twice participated in our annual Advocacy Day, aptly summarized: “Being a patient advocate is an empowering opportunity for me to share my story and better educate policy makers who make decisions that directly impact me and other dialysis patients.”
Photo: Patrick Michaels (Legislative Aide to Sen. John Cornyn of Texas); Natalie and Eddie Zuniga (Board Member and Patient Ambassador, respectively), Monique Velarde Reyes (wife of dialysis patient, Ximo) and Ximo Reyes (Patient Ambassador), and Dr. Edith Mahone (Patient Ambassador).