Proposed Law Would Make it Harder for Nonprofits to Cover Medical Expenses

There’s no question about it: medical care in the United States is expensive. It is a constant point of debate in politics, especially ever since Republicans promised to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

But even under the ACA, there are still plenty of people who are struggling to pay for healthcare costs. That’s where nonprofits like the American Kidney Fund come in. The American Kidney Fund helps cover about 20% of the over 450,000 Americans currently on dialysis—an expensive and necessary treatment for people with renal failure.

The organization covers some or all of the co-pays and other insurance costs of the people they help, but they get push back from insurance companies. A recent rule introduced by the Department of Health and Human Services, which was set to go into effect on January 13th, would require that “dialysis centers inform insurers if the centers are making premium payments either directly or indirectly through a third party for people covered by marketplace plans. Insurers would then have the option of accepting or denying the payments.” That rule was blocked by a federal judge.

Insurers have complained that these nonprofit groups encourage patients to use private coverage when there are public plans that could assist them. Why that’s a concern isn’t exactly clear though; just like it’s not clear how allowing insurers to refuse payments from such organizations would in any way improve the system. The nonprofits, in the meantime, just want to help people.

Considering the difficulty that many people have in paying medical costs, much less something as important or expensive as dialysis, it is surprising that the government would decide to make things even harder for them. Of course, with the current political climate and the the great efforts that are being taken to repeal the ACA, maybe the public shouldn’t be surprised.