Press release

Governor's Signing of AB 290 Will Leave Thousands of Low-income California Kidney Patients Without Access to Lifesaving Health Care

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Oct. 13, 2019)American Kidney Fund (AKF) President and CEO LaVarne Burton issued the following statement today after Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law the anti-charitable assistance bill AB 290:

"Today is a very sad day for low-income kidney disease patients in California. By signing AB 290, Governor Newsom today has thrown 3,700 low-income, mostly minority dialysis and transplant patients into an avoidable crisis of the legislature's making. On the day this bill becomes law — January 1, 2020 — the American Kidney Fund will be forced to stop providing financial assistance to these vulnerable patients who depend on it to access the health care they need to stay alive.

"We think it is unconscionable to target some of the state's sickest patients for discriminatory insurance practices that benefit no one but insurers. AB 290 would require us to provide to insurers personal information on our grant recipients — people who are low-income and largely minority — just because they need charitable help to pay their bills. That is not only wrong, but it also unlawful under the federal regulations governing our program and others like it.

"We help only the neediest patients and those are precisely the patients who stand to lose their health insurance and with it, their place on the kidney transplant list or their very access to treatment.

"When kidney failure patients lose their health insurance, they lose access not only to regular dialysis, but also to the care team of specialists — cardiologists, endocrinologists, vascular surgeons and more — who treat the many comorbidities of kidney disease. They often turn to emergency rooms for dialysis, an unsustainable and costly solution that can also shorten their lives. This is the crisis that the legislature has created for some of California's most vulnerable residents.

"Our message today is to the patients we serve and all their friends and family: We are grateful to you.  So many of you worked tirelessly with us over the past two years to fight this harmful legislation, in the face of intense lobbying and significant campaign contributions from the health insurance industry and labor unions who pushed the bill for their own financial benefit.

"It has been our honor to provide you with charitable health insurance assistance for the past 22 years. Please be assured that this fight is far from over. We are not giving up — we are going to continue to fight for the ability to help the neediest California dialysis and transplant patients."

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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