“Medigap” legislation receives broad support from lawmakers; recognized as patient-centric bill to provide greater access to healthcare coverage for Georgia’s disabled
ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Members of the state’s kidney care community, including dialysis and transplant patients, caregivers and kidney care advocates praised the Georgia House of Representatives for passing “Medigap” legislation and encouraged lawmakers to pass the bill into law before the close of the state’s legislative session. The bill (S.B. 316), which also unanimously passed the state Senate earlier this year, will allow approximately 2,000 Georgians suffering from kidney failure, and thousands more deemed disabled, to purchase additional private health insurance for their dialysis, transplant medications or other needed medical care.
“I am proud to support this important piece of legislation and applaud my colleagues in the Georgia General Assembly for recognizing that this bill is good for patients and good for taxpayers,” said Representative Jay Neal (R- LaFayette), leading sponsor of the bill in the House. “I look forward to sending this bill to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law this year.”
Under current Medicare law, patients diagnosed with end stage renal disease (ESRD), commonly known as kidney failure, can qualify for the Medicare benefit, regardless of their age. Despite this coverage, patients are responsible for covering the costs of additional expenses including co-insurance, deductibles and co-pays. While patients over age 65 can purchase secondary coverage – known as Medigap – to help pay for medical expenses not covered by Medicare, Georgia patients under age 65 do not have this option. The legislation would allow patients in Georgia with kidney failure and those deemed disabled to purchase Medigap coverage and access essential medical treatments, including kidney transplants, without cost being a barrier to care.
By providing patients with much-needed insurance coverage, Medigap coverage protects patients from having to “spend down” their income to become eligible for state Medicaid assistance. If enacted, fewer people will be forced to enter the state Medicaid program, resulting in an estimated $20 million of Medicaid savings over the next five years for Georgia and protecting taxpayers from higher program costs.
“This bill will provide Georgia’s kidney and disabled patients with the expanded insurance coverage needed to access life-saving medical care,” said Chad Lennox, Executive Director of Dialysis Patient Citizens. “As a non-profit, patient-led organization representing more than 1,300 kidney community members in Georgia, we strongly encourage state lawmakers to take the final steps needed in ensuring this legislation becomes law.”
The bill is available at http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2009_10/sum/sb316.htm.
Dialysis Patient Citizens
Ellen Almond, 703-548-0019
KEYWORDS: United States North America Georgia
INDUSTRY KEYWORDS: Health Public Policy/Government Healthcare Reform Other Health Public Policy State/Local Managed Care