Press release

American Kidney Fund Urges Governor Newsom to Protect Health and Well-being of California's Low-income Dialysis and Transplant Patients by Vetoing AB 290 (Wood)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Sept. 10, 2019)The following statement may be attributed to American Kidney Fund (AKF) President and CEO LaVarne Burton.

"The California legislature's passage of AB 290 by the slimmest of margins, with a significant number of legislators abstaining or voting against, sent a clear signal to Governor Newsom: This reckless measure, even as amended at the last minute, is harmful to California's low-income, mostly minority dialysis and transplant patients who depend on charitable premium assistance from the American Kidney Fund (AKF).

"We commend the senators and assemblymembers who voted against AB 290 or abstained for standing up for their constituents against extreme pressure from the special interests behind the bill. They heard the voices of the patients AKF serves and recognized that the bill singles out some of California's most vulnerable residents for discriminatory insurance practices.

"We are still studying the bill to fully understand its ramifications on our ability to operate in California, and we are carefully considering all our options. We have objected, from the very beginning, to the bill's requirement that we disclose the names of the patients we serve to insurers. This not only violates the federal guidelines under which we operate, but it also violates the right of our grant recipients to receive charitable help with privacy and dignity.

"The bill seeks to place the burden on us to solve the problem its authors and sponsors have created by requiring AKF to ask the Office of the Inspector General to sanction AB 290's violation of patient privacy. The OIG has repeatedly affirmed strong requirements for privacy on programs of this type. AB 290 seeks to remove those requirements.

"The delay in implementation of AB 290 does not solve its fundamental problems, and it creates uncertainty for patients where there is now certainty of AKF's ability to help them financially. And it does this just before the open enrollment period for health insurance, leaving 3,700 Californians with no assurance that the legislature will not take away their charitable premium assistance.

"We implore Governor Newsom to press pause on AB 290 and take stock of the life-altering impact his decision will have on low-income dialysis and transplant patients who rely on our financial assistance. No amount of political maneuvering on either side of this debate should silence their voice and they have clearly said that AB 290 will have catastrophic consequences for them."

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.

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