The Foundation is patient focused on fatty liver and NASH leading to cirrhosis which is just one of many liver diseases. The American Liver Foundation covers all liver disease so we are logical collaborators but with a different focus. I recently joined with the ALF to visit with a number of congressmen about issues of law that we feel are critical to our community.
We are particularly alarmed by recent changes in the rules governing insurance companies so we wanted to take your voice to Washington. Simply put, government agencies are once again proving that they are inherently a fools paradise and insurance companies are demonstrating that they are unconcerned if you die or are forced into poverty. As usual, Congress is the gang that can't shoot straight, but the patients are reliably suffering and dying.
Here is the shameful story. In 2014 the feds, through Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), passed a rule which required insurance companies to accept payments from family members of a sick person. This was in answer to insurance companies denying coverage if the patient couldn't pay themselves and received help. That makes some sense so good job, right?
Just to be clear, the idea that anyone would try to force a person into a bad situation because they were sick and without funds by refusing to allow help from someone else is beyond repugnant to me personally. But CMS to the rescue, right? In their infinite wisdom the faceless ones passed the rule that insurers couldn't refuse payments from family members but they specifically ruled that the insurers were free to prohibit help by others.
I wonder what happened next? The insurers, wanting the best for their patients, were pleased and promptly prohibited charities, for example, from helping a patient. Imagine for a moment the mindset of people who make decisions like that. Sociopath comes to mind for me but you might think of something more descriptive. Someone suggested murder but I guess we all have our own definition of evil.
Today, due to that federal policy, insurers in 41 states are denying coverage to Americans living with devastating - and expensive - diseases simply because they receive assistance from charities. We went to Congress with ALF to urge them to cosponsor H.R. 3976, commonsense legislation that would stop insurers from discriminating against patients with expensive conditions, and effectively creating 'a new kind of pre-existing condition trap', that of running out of money.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans living with chronic and life-threatening illnesses rely on non-profit premium and cost-sharing assistance to help cover the high costs of their health insurance and care. This is at no added cost to the public, these charities help ensure that all patients have access to the treatments and services they need to manage their conditions and to lead productive lives.
Nearly three-quarters of a million Americans receive support from charities - support which can often mean the difference between life and death. Why any sane person would want to limit that is beyond my poor powers to add or detract. The rating services give the bill a 5% chance of passage. That may tell you all you really need to know about your Congress and this sorry spectacle speaks volumes about the state of the insurance industry and healthcare in general.
Below are some links which may be of use to you.
Here is a system which tracks bills through congress.
This is a link to the ALF advocacy page which has an email template you can use to contact Congress.
This is a link to our online community if you would like to comment about this or other issues or concerns. It is also just a great place to connect with other liver patients.