Our nation recently lost one of its most iconic and stalwart champions for justice in Congressman John Lewis. He dedicated his life to fighting for civil rights and social justice for all Americans, and his legacy will forever be remembered. Congressman Lewis was also one of the kidney community’s most consistent, trustworthy, and respected allies, and we join the nation in mourning his passing.

Throughout his more than three decades in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Lewis was a champion for patients with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) and worked with them to increase access to treatment.  Specifically, he repeatedly introduced the Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act, which would contain many of the priorities for the kidney community.

Because of Congressman Lewis’ leadership on this legislation, many of the provisions have been enacted into law over the years. One of DPC’s priorities was included in the 21stCentury CURES Act, which allows ESRD patients access to Medicare Advantage plans starting in 2021. Congressman Lewis wanted dialysis patients to have access to the same coverage that was available to everyone else, and that they should be able to choose the coverage that works best for them.

For this reason, his legislation now includes a provision to provide ESRD patients with access to Medigap plans, regardless of age. Medicare only covers 80% of out of pocket costs and many times patients need help covering the other 20%. Congressman Lewis understood how complicated care for dialysis patients can be and was always looking for ways to improve the delivery of care and outcomes for patients, which is why he was such a strong supporter of efforts to increase care coordination.

Congressman Lewis dedicated a large part of his career to improving the lives of those around him, and kidney patients will forever be grateful for his efforts. Congressman Lewis recognized the importance of speaking up on behalf of those whose voices could not be heard, no matter who they were or where they came from, and his voice will forever be missed by kidney disease patients.

Congressman Lewis was an American hero. His contributions have left an indelible mark on this country. On behalf of over 30,000 dialysis patients, we want to thank Congressman Lewis for his tireless work on behalf of patients and join the rest of the country in honoring his extraordinary life and accomplishments.