By Chip Shields
August 16, 2020
(Portland Tribune) -
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been much attention devoted to improving care for high-risk patients in Oregon and throughout the nation who have chronic health problems which hinder their ability to fight off the virus.
During all of this, however, relatively little attention has been given to the difficulties faced by those with end-stage renal disease, who depend on dialysis treatments several times a week just to live. ESRD has a significant negative impact on immune systems, and many of these patients have other conditions, like diabetes, which are also especially vulnerable to the COVID virus. Unfortunately, the doctors for each condition faced by ESRD patients often have little communication with each other, meaning patients often need to spend more time in the doctor's office and spend more money on their treatments.
A new bill Congress is working on could help. The Better Kidney Care Act would put a system in place that allows ESRD patients' doctors to better coordinate their efforts, helping to streamline their treatments. In addition to more coordinated care, the bill also offers some additional health services.
Fortunately, Oregon's elected leaders recognize how important this is. Oregon U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer helped lead the effort to support the Dialysis Patients Demonstration Act three years ago, with several others acting as cosponsors. That bill didn't pass, but I am confident that with Blumenauer's continued leadership, coordinated care can finally become reality not just here in Oregon, but everywhere in the United States thanks to the Better Kidney Care Act.
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