WASHINGTON, March 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Dialysis Patient Citizens (DPC) released the following statement today thanking Congresswomen Cynthia Axne (D-IA-03) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA-03) for introducing the Jack Reynolds Memorial Medigap Expansion Act (H.R. 1676) in honor of founding DPC Board member and longest-serving president Jack Reynolds. The bill, which was originally introduced last year, would expand Medigap coverage for patients under 65 who suffer from End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
“Currently, it’s up to each state to determine whether Medigap plans are sold to the more than 9 million people younger than 65 years old who could qualify because of their kidney illnesses,” Rep. Axne said. “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.”
“Folks living with end stage renal disease should have access to life-saving medications, dialysis, and kidney transplants needed to treat their illness,” Rep. Herrera Beutler said. “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. 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.”
“We commend Representatives Axne and Herrera Beutler for introducing the Jack Reynolds Memorial Medigap Expansion Act and recognizing the continued need to assist the hundreds of thousands of Americans suffering with kidney disease,” said DPC Board President Andrew Conkling. “By expanding Medigap coverage to ESRD patients under the age of 65, this bill will ensure that dialysis patients can access high-quality, life-saving care that they need to stay alive, while also exponentially increasing their access to a kidney transplant. This legislation is a fitting tribute to the life and legacy of Jack Reynolds, who was a proud lifelong Iowan deeply devoted to helping those with kidney disease. A founding Board member and the longest-serving president of Dialysis Patient Citizens, Jack credited a large part of his longevity during his 45 years on dialysis to the financial security he felt due to having access to Medigap coverage. Jack dedicated his life to empowering kidney patients and educating the public on the needs of the kidney community, and we are thankful that this bill has once again been brought before Congress.”
- Current law does not ensure that all Medicare beneficiaries, specifically those under the age of 65 such as many dialysis patients, have access to supplemental insurance, also known as “Medigap,” to cover their substantial out-of-pocket costs.
- Medigap policies are standardized, private insurance policies that cover costs not covered by Medicare, such as copayments and deductibles.
- Under federal law, Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older are guaranteed access to Medigap policies, but beneficiaries under age 65, including many with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), do not share this protection.
- Only about half of all states allow Medicare beneficiaries under age 65 to purchase Medigap policies.
- In 2013, 61% of Medicare beneficiaries with ESRD were under age 65, and only 11% had Medigap coverage.
- Of the 91,421 dialysis patients on the kidney transplant list, only 53,745 are listed as active as of January 22, 2021. The inability to cover the 20% coinsurance for the transplant surgery is often a significant barrier for many patients, which Medigap coverage would help address.
- In 2019, (prior to the ongoing pandemic) 5,207 patients were removed from the transplant list for reasons of death. Access to transplant could have saved many of these lives.
To learn more about Jack Reynolds, please click here for his obituary. You may find a video celebrating Jack’s lifetime of service to the kidney community, prepared by DaVita, by clicking here, and a video honoring Jack as the recipient of the DPC Education Center’s award for Patient Education and Public Service by clicking here.