Several important pieces of legislation have been introduced in the current Congress, and we are actively working to enact these bills that would affect kidney patients and their access to life-sustaining health care.
Kidney legislation before the 115th (2017 - 2018) Congress
Access to Marketplace Insurance Act (H.R. 3976)
This bill, introduced in October 2017 by Rep. Kevin Cramer (D-ND), would prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against low-income individuals with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) on dialysis by requiring that they accept health insurance premium payments directly from charitable organizations like AKF. Currently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires insurance companies to accept payments directly from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS on behalf of patients with HIV/AIDS, but there is no such requirement for insurers to accept payments from charitable organizations for other serious medical conditions. Without a specific requirement from CMS, some insurance companies are choosing to refuse the direct health insurance premium payments from us and other organizations, jeopardizing the access of many chronically ill, low-income people to needed health insurance. If enacted, the Access to Marketplace Insurance Act would stop this discriminatory practice. Contact your representative to urge him or her to support this important legislation.
The Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act of 2017 (H.R. H.R.2644, S. 1890)
We strongly support the Chronic Kidney Disease Improvement in Research and Treatment Act of 2017 (H.R. 1130, S. 598), introduced by Representatives Tom Marino (R-PA), John Lewis (D-GA) and Peter Roskam (R-IL) in the House of Representatives and by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) in the U.S. Senate. Among several provisions relating to kidney disease, this legislation would require insurers who offer Medicare Supplemental Plans (Medigap) to extend those plans to individuals under the age of 65 with end-stage renal disease or ESRD. Currently, there are 21 states where insurers are not required to offer Medigap insurance to ESRD patients under age 65. . The bill would also expand patient access to kidney disease education programs and home dialysis treatment options and would more efficiently manage and coordinate biomedical research, setting the nation on a path toward a cure for kidney disease. The legislation also mandates a federal study to better understand the progression of kidney disease and treatment of kidney failure in minority populations.
The Living Donor Protection Act (H.R. 1270)
The Living Donor Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 1270), introduced by Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), would remove many barriers to living organ donation by expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include organ donation as well as end many types of insurance discrimination that living donors face.
The bill would prohibit insurers from:
- Declining or limiting coverage of a person under any life insurance policy, disability insurance policy, or long-term care insurance policy due to the status of such a person as a living organ donor;
- Precluding a person from donating all or part of an organ as a condition of receiving a life insurance policy, disability insurance policy, or long-term care insurance policy;
- Considering the status of a person as a living organ donor in determining the premium rate for such a person.
The bill also changes the FMLA to include organ donation surgery as a qualifying medical condition that would allow those who donate an organ to take the leave afforded to people under FMLA. Finally, the bill requires the department of Health and Human Services to update their website, brochures, and other media regarding live donation and access to insurance for living donors.