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Sacramento, CA – Thanks in part to the advocacy efforts of the National Kidney Foundation, the state Budget Conference Committee has defeated a proposed budget cut which would have eliminated coverage for lifesaving dialysis treatments for a number of patients in California.

The elimination of dialysis services for a segment of the dialysis population not covered by the federal Medicare program were proposed in late May by Governor Schwarzenegger as part of his plan to close California’s growing budget shortfall.ย  In response, NKF contacted members of the Budget Conference Committee, educating them on the life and death stakes involved in the proposed measures and questioning the validity of potential savings related to the cuts.

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In its letter to Conference Committee Chair, Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, in May, NKF stated: ‘Dialysisย…is never ย– under any circumstances ย– a non-essential or non-emergency service.ย  Elimination of dialysis is literally a death sentence: without ongoing treatment dialysis patients will die, generally within eight to twelve days.’

On Monday June 8th, the Committee voted to strike down the proposed cuts.ย  The decision was significant in that it was one of the few cuts in the Governor’s plan to be defeated outright at this stage of the debate.

‘Ensuring that coverage remains constant for all dialysis patients in California is paramount,’ said NKF Division President Chris Kelley, ‘there is no gray area when it comes to this essential, lifesaving treatment.ย  We are grateful that the Committee recognized the gravity of this issue and voted to preserve coverage.’

The NKF would like to extend its appreciation to Assemblymembers Noreen Evans, Bob Blumenfield and Kevin De Leon; and Senators Denise Ducheny, Mark Leno and Alan Lowenthal for their opposition to these cuts.

The National Kidney Foundation is the largest organization advocating on behalf of patients with kidney disease on the West Coast.ย  Currently, it is estimated that:

    * More than 4 million Californians have some level of Chronic Kidney Disease

    * Several million more are at high-risk for kidney disease due to risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and other factors

    * More than 45,000 patients are currently on dialysis for kidney failure

     * It costs more than $2.9 billion each year to provided dialysis to patients in California 

The programs and services of the NKF target patients at each stage of kidney disease:  from educational programs aimed at disease prevention in healthy individuals; to screening and early detection programs for those at-risk; to disease management in patients already diagnosed; and assistance for vulnerable patients on dialysis or recovering from transplantation.  In addition, the NKF works with health policymakers on legislation of concern to the kidney community.

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