A message from LaVarne Burton, President and CEO


ROCKVILLE, Maryland (July 2, 2016) - In response to recent media interest in our Health Insurance Premium Program (HIPP), American Kidney Fund President and Chief Executive Officer LaVarne A. Burton has released the following statement:

We were deeply troubled to learn of allegations in a lawsuit brought by an insurance company against a dialysis provider. The American Kidney Fund (AKF) is not a party to the lawsuit; however, the lawsuit extensively discusses our Health Insurance Premium Program (HIPP). The allegations against AKF in this lawsuit are entirely without merit. We have operated HIPP for close to 20 years under an Advisory Opinion from the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, which reviewed and affirmed the program structure and funding model.

Some background on AKF and HIPP

As the nation’s leading nonprofit working on behalf of the 31 million Americans with kidney disease, AKF is dedicated to ensuring that every kidney patient has access to health care, and that every person at risk for kidney disease is empowered to prevent it. We fulfill our mission by providing a complete spectrum of programs and services: prevention outreach, top-rated health educational resources, and direct financial assistance for people who are in kidney failure and on dialysis. 

Helping dialysis patients has been at the heart of AKF’s existence since our founding in 1971, when we were established to help one person afford care. The need for our grant programs is greater now than ever, with more than 468,000 Americans dependent on dialysis treatment for survival. Approximately 79,000 of them are AKF HIPP grant recipients, while another 14,000 benefit from AKF’s various other grant programs. These programs help America’s dialysis patients to afford their health coverage and other treatment-related costs.

There are more than 100,000 people on the kidney transplant waiting list, and the wait can last for years because of the shortage of donor organs. Our greatest hope is that our grant recipients will receive transplants, but the reality is that the vast majority of people with kidney failure must spend time on dialysis. With AKF helping them to stay insured, dialysis patients have access to all their health plan benefits—not only dialysis treatments, doctor’s visits and medications, but also kidney transplants.  HIPP assistance continues until the patient is successfully post-transplant.

We help people with all types of insurance. The majority—more than 60 percent—receive our help to afford Medicare Part B and/or Medigap premiums. Kidney failure exacts a significant financial toll on individuals and families. Eighty percent of patients cannot work full-time, and typical out-of-pocket costs for their care average close to $7,000 a year.

We help patients who are in financial need to pay for the coverage they have chosen. It doesn’t matter what kind of insurance they have or where they choose to get their care. Our job is to make sure they get the care they need despite their financial circumstances. We are extraordinarily proud of what we have accomplished but there is much more work to do.