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Labor Combating Kidney Disease: A New and Disruptive Approach

September 26, 2018 – Nobel Laureate Alvin Roth, Ph.D. (2012 Nobel Prize in Economics) and nationally renowned transplant surgeon Michael Reese, M.D. proposed a strategy to the America’s Agenda Board of Directors, today, derived from Roth’s Nobel prize-winning work to exponentially increase opportunity for kidney transplantation in lieu of dialysis in treatment of kidney failure, one of the costliest causes of death among Americans. End-stage renal disease is the 9th leading cause of death in the United States and dialysis is extremely expensive before Medicare takes over payment.

Drs. Roth and Rees observed that labor unions and employers are uniquely positioned to drive a qualitative improvement in prognosis for American kidney disease patients, because of the leverage Taft-Hartley and union-employer health plans have on health plan design for employees. They pointed out that, for self-funded health plan payers like Taft-Hartley trusts and union employer-sponsored plans, increased opportunity for transplants means major financial savings and reduced probability of catastrophic expenses. The potential saving could be game-changing for healthcare budgets and health outcomes for those who suffer from kidney failure.

For patients with end-stage renal disease, outcomes for transplantation are far better (substantially longer life expectancy, and better quality of life) and costs are far lower than with dialysis. Drs. Roth and Reese proposed a partnership with American Labor to lead the shift from dialysis to transplantation as the leading therapy for kidney failure among working families.

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