Legislation to Improve Patient Access to Private Secondary Insurance Coverage for Life-Saving Dialysis and the Disabled
Recognized as “Good for Patients, Good for Taxpayers, Good for Georgia”
ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The Georgia House Insurance Committee today passed patient-centered legislation (S.B. 316) that will allow more than 2,000 kidney failure patients and those deemed disabled in Georgia to obtain secondary insurance coverage for medical care. Members of the kidney care community, including dialysis patients, caregivers and advocates praised committee members for recognizing the valuable role Medigap reform will have in improving patient access to life-saving care, including dialysis or transplant medications. The bill, which was unanimously passed by the Senate earlier this year, will now advance to a full House vote.
Georgians of all ages diagnosed with end state renal disease (ESRD), or kidney failure, currently qualify for insurance coverage under the federal Medicare benefit; however, patients are still responsible to paying additional out of pocket costs such as deductibles and co-pays. Federal law allows patients over age 65 to purchase private secondary coverage – known as Medigap insurance – which enables them to access medical treatment without cost being a barrier to care.
In Georgia, kidney failure and disabled patients under age 65 have limited ability to purchase Medigap insurance; therefore restricting patient access to care and creating financial roadblocks for patients in need of medical attention. In fact, patients unable to afford the cost of care are often time forced to deplete their financial savings in order to qualify for state Medicaid coverage. This legislation would expand the ability of patients in Georgia under age 65 to purchase Medigap coverage; therefore protecting them from having to “spend down” their assets and improving access to health care.
“We applaud the members of the Georgia State Assembly for embracing this smart, patient-focused legislation, which will improve access to care and quality of life for thousands of Georgians,” stated Chad Lennox, Executive Director of Dialysis Patient Citizens, a national patient advocacy organization that represents more than 1,300 kidney community members across the state. “We encourage state lawmakers to pass Medigap reform before the close of this legislative session to ensure that all patients, regardless of age or financial standing, can obtain the healthcare coverage they need and deserve.”
This legislation is also estimated to result in $20 million of Medicaid savings over the next five years for Georgia by reducing the number of patients entering the program. This not only improves patient access, it also protects taxpayers from higher program costs. If passed, Georgia will join 29 other states across the country that have already passed similar reforms.
The bill is available at http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2009_10/sum/sb316.htm.
for Dialysis Patient Citizens
Ellen Almond, 703-548-0019
KEYWORDS: United States North America Georgia
INDUSTRY KEYWORDS: Health Public Policy/Government Healthcare Reform Congressional News/Views Public Policy State/Local White House/Federal Government Professional Services Insurance General Health Managed Care