Kidney care and public policy have been linked for 40 years, with various consequences to outcomes. The 1972 Social Security Amendment, Section 2991, expanded Medicare coverage for all modalities of dialysis and transplant services and non-kidney-related care to those with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) regardless of age. This first and only disease-specific entitlement program was a step toward decreasing disparities in access to care. Despite this, disparities in kidney disease outcomes continue as they are based on many factors. Over the last 4 decades, policies have been enacted to understand and improve the delivery of ESRD care. More recent policies include novel shared-risk payment models to ensure quality and decrease costs. This article discusses the impact or potential impact of selected policies on health disparities in advanced chronic kidney disease and ESRD. Although it is too early to know the consequences of newer policies (Affordable Care Act, ESRD Prospective Payment System, Quality Incentive Program, Accountable Care Organizations), their goal of improving access to timely patient-centered appropriate affordable and quality care should lessen the disparity gap. The Nephrology community must leverage this dynamic state of care-delivery model redesign to decrease kidney-related health disparities.
Keywords: Access to care; Chronic kidney disease; ESRD; Health-care disparity; Public policy.
Copyright © 2015 National Kidney Foundation, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.