Congressman Kevin Cramer of North Dakota has reintroduced the Access to Marketplace Insurance Act, or H.R. 3976, a bipartisan bill that helps to address a misguided and harmful federal policy. This policy, instituted in 2014 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), excluded nonprofits from the list of entities authorized to provide third-party patient assistance.
As a result, health plans in 41 states across the country are now denying coverage to patients living with devastating chronic health conditions by rejecting the charitable premium and co-pay assistance they rely on to afford their health care.
For many Americans who suffer from chronic diseases, financial assistance to help pay for premiums and co-pays is a lifeline.
As Cramer noted in a recent article published by The Hill: “For Americans battling rare and catastrophic conditions, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and hemophilia, treatment costs can reach upwards of $500,000 per year. In order to account for these pricey medications, health insurers often charge patients living with devastating diseases higher monthly premium rates than healthy individuals. As a result, the chronically ill find themselves making difficult choices such as choosing between paying rent and taking their medications.”
“Fortunately, nonprofits, civic groups, and churches have been providing a temporary safety net for these patients for decades by helping them cover the cost of their insurance premiums and copayments. Without this charitable aid, hundreds of thousands of Americans would not be able to access their life-saving and life-sustaining treatments.”
Passage of the Access to Marketplace Insurance Act would prohibit insurance companies from rejecting these payments or dropping patients from plans who accept charitable premium assistance. Cramer calls the bill a “common-sense, bipartisan solution to correct CMS’ harmful guidance and help ensure that patients have access to the care that is right for them.”
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