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7.13.17 The Chronic Disease Coalition, along with hundreds of patient advocacy groups throughout the nation, sent joint letters to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) this week urging the agency to protect patients’ right to use charitable assistance to pay insurance premiums, fight patient discrimination and adopt more patient-first policies. In June, CMS issued a Request for Information (RFI) “seeking recommendations and input from the public on how to create a more flexible, streamlined approach to the regulatory structure of the individual and small group (insurance) markets.” Patient advocacy organizations wasted no time in responding and advocating for patients. On July 10, the Marketplace Access Project (MAP), which includes the Chronic Disease Coalition and more than 20 national patient advocacy groups, sent a joint letter urging CMS to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to patients who receive assistance from charities. “Access to affordable, safe, and effective care is of utmost importance to the patient communities we represent,” the letter states. “Many individuals with rare and chronic illnesses depend on charitable assistance for the health coverage they need to manage their conditions and lead healthy, productive lives. MAP is dedicated to preserving charitable assistance and protecting patient choice.” The MAP letter further emphasizes the lifeline that charitable assistance provides for many patients. “When an insurer prohibits charitable assistance, patients who depend on this assistance are limited in the plans they can afford on their own, narrowing their choices and affecting their quality of care,” it says. “For some patients, the plans with comprehensive coverage they require become financially unfeasible without the help of charitable assistance. If a patient can no longer afford their insurance coverage they are left with few options to receive their needed care.” In addition to the MAP letter, the Chronic Disease Coalition was among 133 organizations signing onto a joint letter spearheaded by the I Am Essential coalition. The letter advocates for more affordable prescription drugs, increased access to health insurance and improved patient protections – calling on CMS to prohibit any form of patient discrimination. The joint letter further asks CMS to “not weaken existing patient protections and return chronically ill patients to the situation that existed prior to implementation of the ACA when they could not obtain or access health insurance or health coverage and faced widespread discrimination.” You can read the full letter from the Marketplace Access Project here. For the full letter from the I Am Essential coalition, please click here.