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July 10, 2019

Trump signs executive order to overhaul nation's kidney program

An executive order signed Wednesday by President Donald Trump will aim to overhaul the way kidney disease is treated in the United States, expanding the number of transplants and providing financial relief for donors.

While the U.S. faces a major shortage of organs, initiatives proposed in the executive order would boost the supply of donated kidneys — partially through better financial protection — and seek to expand the number of viable organs collected from the deceased, according to the Associated Press.

Current policy tends to focus on the use of large dialysis centers for ongoing treatment, providing financial incentives to patients who pursue this path over transplant and longer-term measures to increase life their expectancy.

Administration officials cited a study that suggests better use of resources could help groups that collect deceased donations increase the number of available kidneys by 17,000 every year.

About 30 million adults in the U.S. have chronic kidney disease, while 94,000 people on the national organ waiting list needed a new kidney last year. There were 21,167 kidney transplants in 2018, according to the AP report.

Initial steps of the new program will incentive doctors to take preventive action for kidney patients, provide bonuses to kidney specialists who take early action to prepare patients for transplant and alter Medicare so that dialysis providers can earn as much to set patients up with at-home care.

Other policies still being worked out include determining a way to help donors avoid financial hardship through lost wages during the recovery period following an operation.

By 2025, the goal is to raise the percentage of kidney patients who receive early transplant or dialysis from 14% to about 80%.

Changes brought about by the new program will reportedly be implemented through Medicare's innovation center, which was created by the Affordable Care Act to improve health care quality and create savings.

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