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.
State kidney policy wins so far this year
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia are still in legislative session at the time of publication and the rest of the states have adjourned for the rest of the year. While we are still working on several bills in the states that are active, we are happy to share our wins on behalf of people with kidney disease from the first half of the year.
So far, six states have passed bills that protect living organ donor and the bills have been signed into law in Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Nebraska, Delaware and Georgia. We are thrilled to see the progress in these states, all of which had their grade in our Living Donor Protection Report Card bumped up to a letter grade.
In even more exciting news, with the recent passage of three more living donor protection bills since our last update, the national average for our Living Donor Protection Report Card has been bumped up from a D to a C. Raising the national average is a testament to the change that has been made at the state level over the last few years.
In the Vermont legislature, a bill was passed and recently signed into law that will create a study of access to Medigap – Medicare supplemental insurance – for people under age 65 who have kidney failure. Current law excludes these people from accessing Medigap plans.
A look into the future
As of the end of May, living donor protection legislation has passed the state legislature in Louisiana, and in the House in Minnesota. We are hopeful both bills will go to their respective governor's desk before their legislative sessions end. Both bills prevent 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.
Currently, Rhode Island has Medigap legislation pending, with the bill currently in the Senate after passing the House. 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.
How can you help?
All of 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 Eric Vicks, AKF's director of patient advocacy, at email@example.com or Ben Shlesinger, AKF's associate director of government relations, 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!