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9.14.16 As the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid considers public comments on third-party premium support (comments are due Sept. 22! Find out more and submit your comments by clicking here), patient rights groups and other are urging CMS to protect vulnerable populations. LaVarne Burton of the American Kidney Fund, a nonprofit that runs the country’s oldest and largest, and federally approved, charitable premium-assistance program for low-income people with end-stage renal disease, outlined many of the issues in a recent column in Modern Healthcare. “Insurers claim they are losing money in the health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act because some high-cost patients receive charitable help to pay their premiums,” she wrote. “Undoubtedly, the insurance industry will pressure CMS to halt third-party payments altogether. Insurers have been angling for this since 2014, when they tried, unsuccessfully, to reject payments to exchange plans assistance HIV/AIDS patients. It took a CMS rule to stop them.” As the presidential administration considers changing rules for third-party payments, its focus needs to be on the patients. CMS has an opportunity to protect a group of low-income people who have chronic illnesses and rely on charitable aid; or, it could allow for insurance companies to discriminate against them. The choice should be obvious. Please join the Chronic Disease Coalition as we share the message from American Kidney Fund: We must urge the government to establish protections for those with pre-existing conditions or chronic illnesses.

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