ROCKVILLE, Md. (July 25, 2019) — The following statement may be attributed to LaVarne A. Burton, president and CEO of the American Kidney Fund (AKF).
"Americans who are dealing with serious medical conditions should not also have to deal with a dysfunctional health care system that can leave them on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in surprise medical bills.
"AKF is committed to working with legislators, patients and other advocacy organizations to end surprise medical billing. In May, we co-signed a letter with 12 other patient advocacy organizations thanking U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) for introducing legislation to address surprise medical billing for the millions of Americans with serious and chronic illnesses. This is the kind of common-sense legislation that helps protect patients — including those we serve with kidney disease and kidney failure — from unnecessary additional financial distress.
"We fully endorse the key patient protections in the STOP Surprise Medical Bills Act of 2019 (S. 1531), and advocate for policies that:
- Protect patients from being held financially responsible for balance bills due to unexpected out-of-network care;
- Improve cost transparency by notifying patients in a timely manner when they receive services from out-of-network providers or facilities; and,
- Promote meaningful choice by patients by directly informing them of cost information prior to delivery of care and provide the opportunity to ask questions, explore other options, if available, and consent to the services.
"Network adequacy, especially in rural and underserved areas, is an issue that Americans living with chronic diseases, including kidney disease, face every day. We do not believe chronically ill patients should have to drive hours to find in-network providers. For dialysis patients in particular, who require treatment multiple times per week to stay alive, this presents extreme hardship.
"We also believe patients should be able to get accurate and timely information from their insurers and their providers, including accurate and transparent information about which providers are in-network, which could help avoid surprise medical billing in the first place."
About the American Kidney Fund
The American Kidney Fund (AKF) fights kidney disease on all fronts as the nation’s leading kidney nonprofit. AKF works on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions more at risk, with an unmatched scope of programs that support people wherever they are in their fight against kidney disease—from prevention through transplant. With programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy, no kidney organization impacts more lives than AKF. One of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, AKF invests 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, earning the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for 20 years in a row as well as the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly GuideStar.