For decades, the American Kidney Fund (AKF) has provided charitable financial aid to patients unable to afford their health insurance premiums, assisting over 75,000 kidney patients across the country. For the nearly 4,000 patients battling end-stage-renal disease in California, this assistance may soon be coming to an end: Last week, AB 290 narrowly passed through California’s Senate and Assembly. The bill would require AKF to disclose private patient information to insurance companies, placing AKF out of compliance with the strict federal regulations under which the nonprofit organization operates.
“The lifesaving assistance we provide to so many Californians has been under threat by special interests in the insurance industry who for years have tried to keep these patients off their rolls,” said LaVarne Burton, President and CEO of AKF, in a statement. “They rushed AB 290 through the final stages of the legislative process without our consultation, and their amendments impose requirements to operate our programs in ways that we cannot.”
Inevitably, the fate of California’s low-income dialysis patients rests in the hands of Governor Gavin Newsom. California patients, including Robert Hines, are speaking out and urging Governor Newsom to veto this reckless bill.
“Without the help of the American Kidney Fund, I don’t know if I am going to be able to afford my insurance,” Hines said. “This is a matter of life and death for me, and I don’t think that the legislature appreciates the implications that this bill has on the future of my health and wellbeing. People don’t understand the nature of the hardships dialysis patients face daily, and I hope that Governor Newsom sees the impact this will have on not only me – but many others facing the same reality.”
Patients battling rheumatoid arthritis, Gaucher’s disease, lupus and countless other conditions also rely on access to charitable premium assistance to afford their insurance premiums. If this bill were to become law, insurers would be emboldened to target other disease groups. Join the Chronic Disease Coalition in urging Governor Newsome to protect all patients’ ability to utilize charitable financial assistance by sending a letter here.