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The National Kidney Foundation of Florida Commends Senator Thad Altman, Representative Ritch Workman for Co-Sponsoring 'Common Sense' Legislation Widely Hailed as 'Good for Patients, Good for Taxpayers, Good for Florida'
Date:3/16/2009

SB 1022/HB 675 Bill Would Provide Access to Medigap as Additional Coverage Option For Florida Kidney Failure Patients Who Qualify

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., March 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Kidney Foundation of Florida (NKF of Florida) praised Senator Thad Altman and Representative Ritch Workman today for co-sponsoring proposed legislation that would provide access to secondary health insurance for Florida's end stage renal disease (ESRD) patients under age 65 who are facing challenges securing critical medical services -- such as kidney transplant and prescribed medications -- due to cost. If Florida passes this bill, it will join 28 other states that already provide this type of coverage access. Governor Crist stated in a press conference with former NBA All Star Alonzo Mourning (who underwent a kidney transplant and came to Tallahassee to support the bill) that he would sign the bill when it crossed his desk.

"As I am a kidney disease patient under age 65, this Medigap legislation would ensure that I - and patients like me - will be able to afford prescribed medications and other important treatments, which can be extremely costly," said Rich Salick, Community Relations Director of the NKF of Florida and a kidney patient from Rockledge. "I am very grateful to my Representative, Ritch Workman, for sponsoring this bill, and I urge his colleagues to pass this legislation so we can begin helping the hundreds of patients in our state who would benefit from this coverage."

While Medicare provides coverage for all individuals age 65 and older, it also covers certain patients of any age with certain conditions, such as ESRD. Medicare covers most costs of care, but patients must pay their own deductibles and co-pays. Beneficiaries over age 65 are able to purchase Medigap as secondary insurance under federal law; this coverage helps them access care without cost being a barrier and avoid having to deplete their income in order to enter receive Medicaid assistance.

The proposed legislation, SB 1022 and HB 675, would provide this same access to Medigap for approximately 500 Florida end stage renal disease (ESRD) patients under age 65 who are in need of secondary coverage. Since the legislation will prevent more individuals from having to enter the state's Medicaid program it is anticipated to create savings for taxpayers, and analyses of the 28 states with similar coverage have shown that expanding access to Medigap has not increased insurance premiums.

"This legislation is an example of a thoughtful, solution-oriented program that can improve patients' experience - helping them avoid serious financial hardship, treatment delays, and, at times, complications with their condition - while also saving taxpayers money," said Stephanie Hutchinson, NKF of Florida CEO. "This bill would be a win-win for all concerned, and we hope to see its passage soon deliver a reduction in Florida Medicaid applicants, improved care, and greater financial savings for our state."


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SOURCE National Kidney Foundation of Florida
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