5.31.17

More than 180 members of Congress are urging the federal government to revise a misguided and harmful policy that lets health insurers ban people from paying for their insurance premiums if they rely on patient assistance programs.

Revising the rule would help to protect the estimated 250,000 people who rely on charitable assistance to afford their health care. These charitable programs are common for people with chronic diseases, from hemophilia and other bleeding disorders, to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, to end-stage renal disease (kidney failure) and others. Premium assistance is especially important for those patients who are lower-income, often because of health-related complications that affect their ability to work.

The 184 members of Congress who recently sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price expressed concern that a 2014 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid rule ultimately allowed health plans to discriminate against people with rare and chronic diseases. The policy lets insurers reject vulnerable patients’ coverage on the basis that they receive insurance premium and cost-sharing assistance from nonprofit organizations, which are typically associated with their disease.

The Chronic Disease Coalition is a member of the Marketplace Access Project, a group of leading national patient advocacy organizations dedicated to protecting nonprofit insurance premium and cost-sharing assistance for people with chronic and life-threatening medical conditions.

In a press release issued by the Marketplace Access Project, Patient Services Inc. President and Founder Dana Kuhn applauded those members of Congress who “have taken a laudable stand for the quarter of a million Americans who depend on charitable patient assistance to survive.”

“With health insurance costs on the rise, charities that provide premium and copayment assistance are needed now more than ever to ensure chronic patients receive adequate care,” Kuhn said. “We urge HHS to listen to the mounting support for this effort both in Congress and across the country and immediately override CMS’s harmful guidance so that the most vulnerable Americans can continue to receive access to life-saving health care.”

Lisa Butler, executive director of GBS/CIDP Foundation International, a MAP member, also called on the administration to take action to protect patients.

“At no added cost to the public, nonprofit patient assistance programs serve as a critical lifeline for individuals living with devastating diseases,” Butler said in the release. “It’s time for the administration to issue a long-overdue fix for this misguided rule.”

You can read the full letter here: http://bit.ly/2snCkZ6.