American Kidney Fund - Kidney Month

CA Senate Bill 1156 jeopardizes access to charitable assistance and insurance coverage for kidney patients
California Senate Bill 1156 makes it hard for low-income Californians with kidney failure to stay insured. It’s backed by insurers and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)— organizations that will benefit financially from the legislation.
The bill would make it extremely challenging for AKF to continue running our Health Insurance Premium Program (HIPP) in California. If the bill becomes law, it could put into jeopardy the insurance coverage of the nearly 4,000 patients we are assisting in the state, as well as all those in California who turn to us in the future. 
The bill also provides a financial windfall to insurers, unions and other payers, while financially penalizing dialysis clinics whose patients receive HIPP assistance.
Bert's story
Bert Johnson lost the career he loved and his income when his kidneys failed because he could no longer travel for work. He is hoping to get a transplant and depends on AKF to help him pay for his COBRA insurance policy so he could keep the same insurance he had while he was working. Assistance from AKF is what keeps this 60-year-old grandfather’s family solvent.
SB 1156 allows insurance companies to reject charitable premium assistance and deny coverage for low-income kidney disease patients. There is no requirement that insurers must accept charitable premium assistance from organizations like AKF if all of the bill’s requirements are met. If SB 1156 passes in the California Assembly, the already-profitable health insurance industry will make even more money. Insurers will be able to remove a great number of kidney failure patients from their insurance rolls.
Janet's story
Janet de Wald is a 76-year-old dialysis patient who lives on a fixed income from Social Security and a small pension. She depends on assistance from AKF to pay the premiums for her Medigap plan that pays for the 20 percent of medical care that is not covered by Medicare. As a former member of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), she is shocked that her former colleagues support legislation that would deny her fellow patients from using charitable help to pay for the health care they need to survive.
SB 1156 puts patients in the middle of disputes between insurers and dialysis providers, and the SEIU labor union and dialysis providers. We think it’s indefensible that the union and the health insurers are using patients as pawns, threatening patients’ insurance coverage as a tactic to win other battles.
Phillip's story
Phillip Silva is one of the lucky dialysis patients fortunate enough to get a transplant. AKF paid his insurance premiums for eight years while he was on dialysis, and is continuing the help him this year as he looks to return to work. Without AKF’s help, he says, he and his family would very likely have ended up homeless.
SB 1156 appears to conflict with longstanding federal requirements that ensure the integrity of HIPP. Disclosure provisions in SB 1156 could seriously undermine AKF’s ability to operate HIPP and could result in us being unable to assist dialysis and transplant patients in California.
“We have been receiving assistance from American Kidney Fund, AKF, since 2013. AKF has truly been a godsend for us and our family. Please help all of us that rely on the charity of others.”
– Paul, Montclair
“Without [AKF’s] help, many of us would have fewer days left, and more of us would end up in the dark and lonely life on the streets.”
– Mardel, Sacramento
Kidney disease has totally devastated my life. Only have Social Security to live on. Without [AKF’s HIPP program] I would not be able to make it.”
– Mona, Sacramento
“I have been on dialysis since March 2016, and I am grateful for the financial help from AKF. It’s been a struggle for myself and family members. Thank you very much.”
– Manuel, Fontana
“I have been on dialysis for 10 years and without the support of the American Kidney Fund, I probably would have died! We need their help and so do other people on dialysis.”
– Noel, Rancho Cordova
Insurers and unions are spreading false information about AKF and our program.
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The Real Story
Watch how charitable premium assistance impacts the lives of real people.