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Opinion: House Bill Needed To Fight Kidney Disease

House Bill 2421, sponsored by Reps. Raquel Moore-Green and Andrea Salinas, would establish a Chronic Kidney Disease Task Force responsible for developing an education and prevention campaign.
March 6, 2021

We both serve our diverse communities with a strong desire to help our fellow Oregonians, and to advance policies that improve their everyday lives.  That is why we have sponsored House Bill 2421.  This legislation would establish a Chronic Kidney Disease Task Force responsible for developing an education and prevention campaign.

Kidney disease is the fastest-growing non-contagious disease in the United States, with 14% of the population believed to have chronic kidney disease.  About two-thirds of cases are caused by diabetes and high blood pressure. The disease can cause wastes to build up in the body, leading to complications like high blood pressure, anemia, weak bones, poor nutritional health and nerve damage, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Many Oregonians who are living with chronic kidney disease have not been diagnosed with it yet. Early detection can improve and save lives.  

We know that disparities in health care for low income and people of color exist across the board, and it is no different with kidney disease diagnosis and care. The risk of developing end stage renal disease among African Americans is almost 4 times higher than it is for other Oregonians and it is almost 1.3 times more likely for Hispanics.  Asian and Native American populations also have a higher prevalence of chronic kidney disease. HB 2421 focuses on bringing multiple voices to the table in order to ensure that the education and prevention campaign addresses and works to reduce those health disparities. 

As the number of Americans diagnosed with kidney disease rises the cost for treatment also increases. In 2019, Medicare costs for individuals with chronic kidney disease or end state renal disease reached $120 billion. With proper education and early detection, we can reduce those costs and ensure a higher quality of life for patients. 

Sadly, there is no cure for end stage renal disease, and patients either require dialysis or a kidney transplant to extend their life.  Dialysis treatments usually last a few hours and are needed multiple times a week, making it difficult for patients to work or go to school.  The waitlist for kidney transplants is long, causing patients to wait years for an organ donation. Yet, if diagnosed early enough chronic kidney disease can be managed and progression can often be slowed or stopped with lifestyle and diet changes, as well as medications.  

With increased education, awareness, and early detection we can reduce the number of kidney disease diagnoses and improve the lives of tens of thousands of Oregonians. 

Rep. Raquel Moore-Green, R-Salem, is vice-chair on the House Behavioral Health Committee and serves on the House Health Care Committee and the COVID-19 subcommittee. She can be reached at [email protected].

Rep. Andrea Salinas, D-Lake Oswego, is vice chair of the House Health Care Committee. She also serves on  the House Behavioral Health Committee and on the COVID-19 subcommittee. She can be reached at [email protected]