Trump to sign executive order to improve treatment of kidney disease

Trump to sign executive order to improve treatment of kidney disease
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The Trump administration is moving to overhaul how kidney disease is treated in the U.S.

An executive order President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeWine tests negative for coronavirus a second time Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally MORE plans to sign Wednesday will instruct federal agencies to pursue strategies that will diagnose kidney disease sooner, make treatment less expensive and encourage more people to donate their kidneys.

“President Trump is the first president in 50 years to tackle this with the boldness to actually say we're going to transform such a major area impacting so many Americans and one-fifth of the spending in Medicare,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.


A key part of the plan would shake up a multibillion dollar industry, run by two dialysis companies, that favors expensive treatment in health centers instead of home-based services that can be easier for patients.

Currently, only 12 percent of dialysis patients receive treatment at home. Patients who receive dialysis in centers often go multiple times a week, which can be burdensome and tiring, Azar said. 

“It is mentally and physically draining on you as an individual,” Azar said.

“You then spend a day recovering and by the time you’re recovered from that process, you’ve got to get back to the center.”

The administration also wants to delay the time before patients with kidney disease start dialysis. Dialysis keeps patients alive, but it can weaken the immune system and make it harder for transplants.

The plan will focus on diagnosing kidney disease earlier, slowing the progression of the disease and diverting patients to transplants rather than dialysis.

About 50 percent of dialysis patients will die within five years, Azar said.

To make more kidneys available for transplant, the administration plans to crack down on the 58 groups that collect transplant organs.

Some of these organs are discarded for minor reasons, experts say, and are still useable. 

The organ-procurement system in the U.S. hasn’t been updated in decades, and thousands of people a year die waiting for kidney transplants.

In all, the administration estimates that the changes could make 17,000 additional kidneys available for transplant in one year.