What's happening in the states: March 2022
Welcome to our What's happening in the states blog series, where we provide monthly legislative updates on what the American Kidney Fund (AKF) is working on across the country to improve the lives of those living with kidney disease and protect living organ donors.
Recognizing National Kidney Month
National Kidney Month is recognized every March and World Kidney Day on the second Thursday of every March (March 10 in 2022). Kidney Month is a time to reflect on all the progress we have made and how we can continue to fight kidney disease on all fronts.
Legislatively, nearly half of the states introduced resolutions this year to recognize National Kidney Month and World Kidney Day. Although it may seem like a small act, these resolutions are extremely important. The more policymakers and their constituents (people who live in their districts) understand and recognize the impact of kidney disease and kidney failure, the more likely they are to advocate for policies that will help combat the disease.
Legislation moving through the states
In 2022, we are focused on two types of legislation at the state level: living donor protections and access to Medigap. Right now, we are working on more than 50 of these bills in more than half of the states. We have testified in Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Nebraska so far this year.
As of the end of March, living donor protection legislation has passed the state legislatures in Delaware, Florida, Ohio and Virginia, and these bills are awaiting the governors' signatures. Each of these bills prevents life, disability and long-term care insurance companies in their respective states from discriminating against living organ donors by charging higher premiums or refusing to insure them altogether. Providing incentives and removing financial burdens for living donors can lead to an increase in organ donations. We are expecting more states to pass living donor protection legislation in the coming months as well.
Two states currently have Medigap, or Medicare supplemental insurance, legislation pending: Kentucky and Rhode Island. Kentucky's Medigap bill is waiting for a second committee hearing before the House votes on it. Rhode Island's Medigap bill has passed the House and is currently in the Senate. Medigap legislation is critical to making health care affordable for people who are younger than 65 and qualify for Medicare because they have kidney failure. Typically, a Medicare supplemental plan like Medigap can ease the burden of high costs and allow a person to get on the transplant waiting list, as many transplant centers require a transplant recipient to have supplementary insurance to cover the costs.
New action center
Have you checked out the newly designed KidneyFund.org? AKF's new website further enhances our 50+ year commitment to being a champion for people with kidney disease and expands our award-winning, evidence-based content for people with kidney disease, caregivers, health care professionals and other members of the kidney community. If you have not had the opportunity to explore the site, we encourage you to do so! Be sure to visit our new action center for opportunities to act on important legislation in your state.
How can you help?
All these bills have a better chance of moving through the legislative process with your help! If you would like to contact your state lawmakers about these bills or help with written or live testimony during bill hearings, please reach out to Lindsay Gill, AKF's associate director of state policy & advocacy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also please follow us @akf_advocacy on Twitter, where we provide real time updates on state activity and other important advocacy information.
And of course, don't forget to join us right from your cell phone by texting "KIDNEY" to 52886 or clicking here. We look forward to working with you!