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Reps. Herrera Beutler, Axne Introduce Bipartisan Kidney Coverage Legislation

Legislation to improve health care coverage for individuals living with end stage renal disease

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Washington, March 9, 2021 | comments

Today, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) joined Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) in introducing bipartisan legislation to expand access to Medigap insurance coverage to all patients living with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), regardless of age.

“Folks living with end stage renal disease should have access to life-saving medications, dialysis, and kidney transplants needed to treat their illness. Unfortunately, thousands of Americans under the age of 65 living with ESRD are barred from obtaining a Medigap plan that could help cover the cost of these treatments. Removing this barrier would not only improve care for Southwest Washington residents, it would result in long-term savings on health care spending. I’m proud to partner with my colleague Congresswoman Axne on this important legislation to put Medigap plans within reach and thereby ensure patients – regardless of their age – can access the care they need,” Herrera Beutler said.

“Currently, it’s up to each state to determine whether Medigap plans are sold to hundreds of thousands of people younger than 65 years old who could qualify because of their kidney illnesses. The issue that bothered Jack Reynolds – for whom this bill is named – and what bothers me is that these Medigap plans have an unnecessary age cap despite only being open to those with serious illnesses. Kidney issues can happen at any age. For Jack, he was only four years old when he was injured, and 22 when his kidneys began to fail. The bipartisan legislation I’m leading with Congresswoman Herrera Beutler would make this commonsense fix to enable patients of all ages to get the coverage and care they need,” Axne said.   

For Americans living with terminal kidney illness, known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD), lack of access to Medicare or private insurance that covers dialysis can mean $72,000 in annual out-of-pocket costs for lifesaving treatment with no alternatives. Supplemental coverage for kidney treatments and medications is available through privately offered Medigap insurance plans, but eligibility for these plans can vary by state depending on the patient’s age. 

The Jack Reynolds Memorial Medigap Expansion Act would allow anyone nationwide with ESRD to purchase Medigap supplemental plans that cover kidney treatments by removing the existing age requirement. 

The Jack Reynolds Memorial Medigap Expansion Act is named in memory of John “Jack” Reynolds from Carlisle, Iowa, who required decades of treatment for kidney failure stemming from an accident he sustained at age 4. Jack’s health condition inspired him to pursue a lifetime of advocacy for expanded coverage for others living with kidney disease.

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