The American Kidney Fund (AKF) released a statement this week regarding the California Legislature’s decision to vote in favor of SB 1156 and put insurer profits before patients’ needs. The Chronic Disease Coalition agrees with this position: Insurance companies should not be given the power to determine whether they cover patients with chronic diseases, with end-stage renal disease, diabetes, lupus or others.
SB 1156 threatens low-income kidney patients in California who receive charitable premium assistance to help afford their bills. The bill is a thinly veiled attempt to by insurers to prevent kidney patients from being able to choose their own insurance plan if they accept charitable premium assistance.
As many other patient groups can attest, the bill would impact people with other diseases as well. In a letter addressed to the California Assembly, the Chronic Disease Coalition joined other concerned groups in warning about the dangers of SB 1156: “The focus of our organizations is on the well-being of the patients we are dedicated to serving. Unfortunately, the focus of those groups supporting this legislation is solely on profit, as they have a financial incentive to remove sicker and more costly patients from their plans. We believe that a patient receiving premium assistance should be able to afford a plan that best fits their medical needs and should not be forcibly steered from that plan by insurers looking to save money.”
AKF expressed their disappointment in a statement as the result of the floor vote: “It is extremely disheartening that California lawmakers would bend to the demands of powerful special interests—billion-dollar health insurers and the SEIU—and ignore the voices of low-income Californians who have depended on our federally approved nonprofit assistance program for the past 21 years to stay insured when kidney failure has devastated their families’ finances. These patients are the losers in this week’s vote.”
The bill passed out of the California State Assembly and will now head to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. The Chronic Disease Coalition joins the American Kidney Fund and over a dozen other patient advocacy organizations in calling on Governor Brown to veto and reject SB 1156