As a hemodialysis Social Worker in Racine, I work with people who have End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Hemodialysis treatments clean waste from the blood of people whose kidneys can’t do it independently.

Hemodialysis in an outpatient setting began being offered in 1960 and was extremely expensive. In fact, until 1972 when Medicare started paying 80 percent toward hemodialysis, many patients experienced financial ruin, went bankrupt paying for treatment, stopped treatment and quickly died.

Today, Medicare continues to pay 80 percent for dialysis but because dialysis remains very expensive the 20 percent out of pocket remains too expensive for many so they turn to private supplemental insurance plans to help cover out-of-pocket costs.

But the reality is that for some already in financial trouble, they have difficulty affording even their supplement plan premiums. Luckily, multiple charities have been created to assist dialysis patients in helping pay for private supplement premiums.

Unfortunately, insurance companies have been trying to force ESRD patients off these plans for years and are now doing so by attempting to ban charity premium payments. Thankfully, bipartisan legislation known as the Access to Marketplace Insurance Act has been introduced to eliminate the attacks on the people I work with. Speaker Ryan and Congress need to support this legislation to ensure all people with medical conditions have the same choice in healthcare as anyone else.

Pamela Thome, MSW, CAPSW

Racine

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