Starting dialysis seven years ago was a bit of a rude awakening. I had to accept that my day-to-day life had changed, and that I’d now need to devote significant time each week just to go through treatments. One of the most challenging parts of the process, though, was learning the ins and outs of the healthcare system.
It was a difficult adjustment, but I’ve been lucky enough to have coverage that takes care of my dialysis treatments and the medications I need. However, I know through my conversations with other patients at my local clinic that the reality is very different for them, especially if they don’t have coverage beyond the costs covered by Medicare.
Many of those patients struggle just to make ends meet. If Medicare doesn’t cover a treatment, then they need to find a way to make up that difference, especially if they are under 65 and aren’t necessarily eligible to get Medigap coverage to supplement their Medicare plan.
We need lawmakers to help fix this issue and make sure patients can focus on their health without worrying about how they’ll be able to afford life-saving care, which is why it’s promising to hear about bills like the Jack Reynolds Memorial Medigap Expansion Act. It’s a bipartisan proposal to expand Medigap coverage to dialysis patients who are under 65, which would limit out-of-pocket costs and make sure patients have the coverage they need.
This would be a life-changing fix for dialysis patients across the country. Between treatments for dialysis and other common problems like heart disease or diabetes, medications to help address their needs, and even transportation to and from their local dialysis center, costs can mount quickly for dialysis patients if they aren’t otherwise covered by Medicare.
The Jack Reynolds Memorial Medigap Expansion Act isn’t the only major piece of legislation that could change dialysis patients’ lives for the better, either. The BETTER Kidney Care Act is another bill that members of Congress are working on that would improve coordination between patients’ doctors, which could help drastically improve care, especially for those dialysis patients who have multiple health conditions and see several doctors. With more streamlined care, patients can scale back on duplicative appointments, medications, and more, helping to further reduce cost burdens they face.
In New Jersey, we’re fortunate to have representatives who understand how important this is. Some of our lawmakers, like Representative Donald Payne, Jr., have already signed on to the Jack Reynolds Memorial Medigap Expansion Act, and were sponsors of the BETTER Kidney Care Act when it was introduced in the past.
This is an encouraging show of support for our state’s dialysis patients, and I hope that his colleagues join him in helping to pass crucial bills like this to help patients. Making sure patients have the coverage they need is vital to allowing patients and their families to focus on what’s most important: their health. The costs of coverage should never interfere with their ability to stay above water, and passing bills like this will help make that possible.
have the coverage I need, and I want to do everything I can to help other patients be able to say the same. We need bills like the Jack Reynolds Memorial Medigap Expansion and the BETTER Kidney Care Act to pass in order to do that, and I hope New Jersey’s members of Congress will rally behind them.
Kenneth Eze, Newark, New Jersey