Advocates on Capitol Hill

To kick off National Kidney Month, American Kidney Fund (AKF) patient-advocates from around the country came to Washington to educate their elected officials about the financial challenges kidney patients face, and to urge lawmakers to put an end to discriminatory practices among some health insurers.

After a day of training, Advocates spoke at a congressional briefing, sharing stories of how living with kidney failure depleted their savings and left them in great financial hardship. Their stories underscored the importance of AKF’s Health Insurance Premium Program (HIPP), our assistance program for all types of insurance plans, including  Medigap, which pays many of the health care costs not covered by Medicare.

Advocates then met with their members of Congress about a problem that jeopardizes the health coverage of many people with kidney failure: The growing refusal of insurance companies to accept health insurance premium payments from nonprofit charitable organizations like AKF on behalf of people with chronic illnesses like kidney failure. Under a 2014 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rule, insurance carriers are required to accept third-party payments for Marketplace exchange plans only from federal and state programs, tribal organizations, and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program.

The Advocates asked their members of Congress to urge CMS to quickly issue new guidance requiring insurers to accept third-party premium payments from nonprofit charitable organizations, and to cosponsor H.R. 3742, the Access to Marketplace Insurance Act. Through rulemaking or legislation, the federal government can require insurance companies to accept health insurance payments from nonprofits like AKF, and thereby protect the health coverage of individuals who rely on charitable assistance.

To contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative about this important issue, our Action Center.

AKF’s Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill was made possible thanks to generous support from Akebia Therapeutics, Genentech and Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.