Trump signs executive order to overhaul treatment for kidney diseases

July 11, 2019

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to help people suffering from kidney diseases.

The president’s order would help those in need of kidney transplants get them sooner, make kidney care cheaper, and introduce more effective treatments of renal diseases, which impact some 30 million Americans, The Hill reported. The order aims to “bring new hope to millions of Americans suffering from kidney disease.”

“This action will dramatically improve prevention and treatment of this life-threatening illness while making life better and longer,” Trump said.

Overhauling kidney care

Trump’s order takes several lines of attack to make kidney care cheaper, more affordable, and more effective for patients, including by making dialysis at home more available to patients. Dialysis can be costly and burdensome, often requiring several trips a week to a hospital to receive the treatment.

Some 500,000 patients are on dialysis and spend an average 12 hours a week in centers, according to TIME magazine.

“Doing this from the home is a dramatic, long-overdue reform, something that people have been asking for many, many years,” Trump said.

Stocks in the two biggest kidney dialysis providers, Davita and Fresenius, shot up in the wake of the order. Both companies indicated that they plan to expand at-home dialysis in conjunction with the Trump administration’s goals.

Reforming the system

However, dialysis is not ideal, and not just because of the cost and burden. Roughly half of dialysis patients will die within five years, said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar.

But Trump’s order also implements strategies to move more patients away from dialysis by making more kidneys available for transplantation. Most kidney donors are dead, and waitlists are long.

“For 50 years, we have had basically a stagnant system of how we treat people with chronic kidney disease,” Azar said.

The administration is looking to make donating a kidney cheaper for live donors by covering the costs of travel, childcare, and wages lost while in the hospital. Federal compensation will also be made available to recipients.

Taking the next steps

Trump is also looking to bring new accountability standards to groups that collect organs to ensure that kidneys “reach waiting patients as quickly as possible, because oftentimes they just don’t make it in time,” Trump said. Research has shown that the 58 organizations that collect organs waste viable organs, leaving patients on waitlists to die. Some 6,000 to 8,000 people die each year while waiting for an organ donation.

The Trump administration predicted that 17,000 new kidneys could be made available next year. Trump will also implement a public information campaign to help prevent people from developing kidney disease in the first place and raise awareness about donor shortages.

“This is a first, second, and third step, but we’re going to make progress here that many people wouldn’t even believe,” Trump said Wednesday.

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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.