How end-stage renal disease (ESRD)-medicare developed

Am J Kidney Dis. 2000 Apr;35(4 Suppl 1):S37-44. doi: 10.1016/s0272-6386(00)70229-0.


Uremia is a chemical, toxic, potentially fatal condition. In a variable pattern, uremia ultimately kills almost every cell in the body. Uremia is produced by hundreds of diseases, both kidney and systemic (e.g., diabetes). These kinds of uremic conditions range from the acute and catastrophic to the slowly and moderately progressive. Humans and medicine have struggled at least since Hippocrates to understand, prevent and treat uremia and thereby prolong the useful lives of the young and the aging. Accelerated by the spectacle of premature uremic deaths from crush syndrome, shock, and forms of nephritis during major wars and disasters, medicine fused clinical and basic science with industrial technology and came up with two effective treatments. Dialysis in several modes and kidney transplantation became feasible but proved complex and expensive. How people, struggling to survive, were able to use a representative form of government to treat all kidney patients, forms a human story: A "people" story. Since it culminated within a single medical generation, it is possible to tell the story as a participant and eye-witness. This is how the medical, social and national organization of substitution therapy for uremia evolved. Since it is legislatively called end-stage renal disease, we titled the entitlement, "How ESRD-Medicare Developed."

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / history
  • Health Policy / history*
  • Health Policy / legislation & jurisprudence
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humanism / history*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / economics
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / history*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Medicare / economics
  • Medicare / history*
  • Politics
  • Social Conditions
  • United States
  • Uremia / history