Chronic and Rare Disease Groups Raise Alarm About California Bill that Threatens Access to Insurance Coverage for Kidney Patients

Senate Bill 1156 (Leyva) backed by financially-interested payers who would ‘forcibly steer’ patients from their health insurance plans

Rockville, Maryland

ROCKVILLE, Md., June 08, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Thirteen groups representing patients with chronic and rare diseases have joined the American Kidney Fund and others in opposition to California Senate Bill 1156, which gives insurance companies broad leeway in deciding whether or not to accept charitable premium assistance payments on behalf of their plan holders.

“We write to express our concern about Senate Bill 1156, which could limit vital patient assistance and place undue burdens on patients already struggling with debilitating conditions,” the groups wrote in a letter to Sen. Connie Leyva (Chino), who introduced the bill. “If SB 1156 were to pass, the results could be potentially catastrophic to thousands of patients who currently depend on premium assistance.”

SB 1156 is backed by Blue Shield of California and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), both of which insure patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and other chronic conditions. It passed the Senate in May and has now moved on the Health Committee of the California General Assembly.  

“Unfortunately, the focus of those groups supporting this legislation is solely on profit, as they have a financial incentive to remove sicker and more costly patients from their plans,” the letter states. “We believe that a patient receiving premium assistance should be able to afford a plan that best fits their medical needs and should not be forcibly steered from that plan by insurers looking to save money.”

The groups that signed the letter to Sen. Leyva are the California Hepatitis C Task Force, Coachella Kidney Institute, Chronic Disease Coalition, Fabry Support & Information Group, FAIR Foundation, Good Days, Kidney Institute of the Desert, LaQuinta Kidney Center, Neuropathy Action Foundation, Patient Services Incorporated, Pulmonary Hypertension Association, Rancho Mirage Kidney Institute, and US Hereditary Angioedema Association. Other groups which have expressed their opposition to SB 1156 include the California Hospital Association, Dialysis Patient Citizens and the National Kidney Foundation.

About the American Kidney Fund

As the nation’s leading nonprofit working on behalf of the 30 million Americans with kidney disease, the American Kidney Fund is dedicated to ensuring that every kidney patient has access to health care, and that every person at risk for kidney disease is empowered to prevent it. AKF provides a complete spectrum of programs and services: prevention outreach, top-rated health educational resources, and direct financial assistance enabling 1 in 5 U.S. dialysis patients to access lifesaving medical care, including dialysis and transplantation. AKF holds the highest ratings from the nation’s charity watchdog groups, including Charity Navigator, which includes AKF on its “top 10” list of nonprofits with the longest track records of outstanding stewardship of the donated dollar, and GuideStar, which has awarded AKF its Platinum Seal of Transparency.

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