American Kidney Fund Statement on California Senate Bill 1156

Rockville, Maryland

ROCKVILLE, Maryland, March 23, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The American Kidney Fund (AKF) is disappointed by the introduction of SB 1156, sponsored by Senator Connie Leyva (District 20). 

If passed this bill would cause profound harm to many of the nearly 67,000 Californians who rely on dialysis to stay alive. AKF provides a safety net to dialysis patients who are unable to afford their health care coverage.  More than 17,000 people who are on dialysis live in the counties in Sen. Leyva’s district, and nearly 300 of them are receiving assistance from AKF to pay their health insurance premiums. This bill seeks to limit those patients’ access to lifesaving financial assistance and is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt by large health insurance companies to kick kidney patients off their insurance plans.

AKF provides financial assistance for all types of health insurance plans, including Medicare, Medigap and Medicare Advantage. In California last year, we helped more than 3,800 dialysis patients pay their health insurance premiums; 65% of plans were Medicare, Medigap or Medicare Advantage and 35% were employer-provided plans. The remaining 10% were private commercial plans.

Though most end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients qualify for Medicare regardless of their age, California is one of only two states that specifically excludes ESRD patients who are under 65 from supplemental Medigap coverage. Because Medicare covers only 80% of all of medical appointments and treatments, including dialysis (with no out of pocket maximum), patients without a Medigap plan are financially liable for 20% of the cost. For someone with an expensive, chronic health condition like ESRD, that could mean financial ruin.  That’s why the American Kidney Fund steps in to make charitable grants to help patients meet their expenses. 

The majority of California’s dialysis patients are under 65 and disproportionately low-income and minorities.  This bill would harm some of the most vulnerable people in California.  We strongly urge state lawmakers to vote against this bill.

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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