Thank you for your commitment to the American Kidney Fund’s Advocacy Network! As an AKF Advocate, you have the opportunity to join with others to make a difference in the lives of all kidney patients.
This month, 10 of our dedicated Advocates helped us kick off National Kidney Month on Capitol Hill. Advocates met with their Congressional representatives to raise awareness of kidney disease and the important issues facing kidney patients and their families. Advocates also took part in AKF’s Kidney Action Day on the Hill event to help introduce our Pair Up campaign to the Capitol Hill community.
March also saw progress on federal regulation and legislation impacting kidney patients. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) clarified that current Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) policy for kidney failure patients would apply to plans offered in the new Health Insurance Exchanges, and legislation was introduced in the United States Senate that would improve kidney patients’ access to care. Learn more below.
From all of us at the American Kidney Fund, thank you for your time and dedication!
AKF, Advocates Take Prevention Message to Capitol Hill
On March 1, the American Kidney Fund kicked off National Kidney Month with events on Capitol Hill to focus attention on kidney disease prevention and introduce our new Pair Up campaign to Members of Congress and Congressional staff. Ten AKF Advocates, including dialysis patients, transplant recipients and caregivers, took part in advocacy training followed by a full day of meetings with their Congressional representatives to raise awareness of kidney disease on Capitol Hill. Advocates also urged their representatives to support the needs of kidney patients in the new Health Insurance Exchanges, and urged support for lifetime Medicare coverage of immunosuppressive drugs for kidney transplant recipients.
In the morning, AKF President and Chief Executive Officer LaVarne A. Burton hosted a Congressional Conversation attended by AKF Advocates, Members of Congress, and Dr. Griffin Rodgers of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). In the afternoon, the American Kidney Fund hosted Kidney Action Day on the Hill featuring free kidney health screenings. Members of the Congressional Kidney Caucus delivered remarks at Kidney Action Day and took part in the event’s free kidney health screenings. Both events featured special appearances by Pair Up Celebrity Health Champion Laila Ali.
On March 12, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its final rule on the establishment of Health Insurance Exchanges. The Exchanges were created as part of the Affordable Care Act and are set to become operational on January 1, 2014.
In its final rule, HHS laid out specific qualifications and requirements for the establishment of health insurance exchanges. The rule also clarified that current Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) policy, which allows end stage renal disease (ESRD) patients to retain their private insurance for up to 30 months after being diagnosed with kidney failure, will apply to health plans offered in the new Exchanges. Prior to this clarification, kidney patients with coverage in an Exchange risked being shifted to Medicare immediately upon being diagnosed with ESRD.
This represents a win for kidney patients, who will now have the same choice to maintain private coverage upon being diagnosed with ESRD whether they elect coverage inside or outside an Exchange. The American Kidney Fund strongly advocated for HHS to clarify this provision, and will continue to monitor the implementation of the Health Insurance Exchanges and the Affordable Care Act through 2014 and beyond.
On March 6, Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) introduced S. 2163, the Kidney Disease Equitable Access, Prevention, and Research Act of 2012. This legislation would extend the current Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) policy for end stage renal disease (ESRD) patients for an additional 12 months, allowing ESRD patients to retain private insurance for a total of 42 months if they choose to do so. In addition, this legislation would improve access to kidney disease education and preventive services under Medicare, and support research to study the progression of kidney disease among minority populations and transportation barriers that prevent access to care for dialysis patients.
The American Kidney Fund supports this important legislation, which would also prevent private insurers from denying or limiting coverage if premiums or other payments are made by third parties, such as AKF, on a patient’s behalf. AKF will continue to monitor this legislation, which would protect kidney patients from unfair private insurance practices and expand kidney patients’ access to affordable coverage.
Urge Your Representative to Join The Congressional Kidney Caucus
The bipartisan Congressional Kidney Caucus helps to educate Members of Congress and the American people about chronic kidney disease and the role of the federal government in providing care to the millions of Americans suffering from kidney disease. Click here to send a personalized letter to your Member of Congress today and ask that they join the Congressional Kidney Caucus to show their support for the millions of Americans living with, or at risk of developing, kidney disease!
The American Kidney Fund is committed to providing our Advocates timely information about the American Kidney Fund, its advocacy efforts, and federal policies and legislation that impact kidney patients and their families. If you would like further information on a federal regulation or federal legislation, or have feedback on the content of our Advocacy newsletter, we would love to hear from you.
Please contact Michael Platt, Government Relations Assistant, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll free at (800) 638-8299, and don’t forget to encourage your family and friends to sign up as AKF Advocates!