On Thursday, June 23, 2022, the Rhode Island General Assembly held the final vote leading to passage of two bills granting access to Medigap coverage for dialysis patients under age 65. Sponsored by Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy (D-District 38), Speaker Pro Tempore, and Senator Dennis L. Algiere (R-District 38), Senate Minority Leader, H 7244 and S 2194 require that Medicare supplement policies be made available to any applicant under age 65 eligible for Medicare due to a disability or End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). The legislative language in these bills (which is identical) specifies that Medicare Supplement Plan A be made available by all insurers in the state.

“On behalf of DPC and all of the dialysis patients we represent in the state of Rhode Island, I would like to express our sincere gratitude for the leadership of primary sponsors Rep. Kennedy and Sen. Algiere, the bill sponsors, committee members and members of the Rhode Island General Assembly for taking this important step to ensure that patients under the age of 65 will soon have guaranteed access to Medigap coverage,” said Hrant Jamgochian, CEO. “Medigap coverage will help to provide Rhode Islanders with the financial stability they deserve and the access to care that they need to ensure the best possible health outcomes. At the same time, we are disappointed that a last minute amendment limited that access to only Plan A coverage, instead of ensuring that patients could choose the option that worked best for them. We look forward to working with the Insurance Commissioner on the implementation of the new law, and hopefully on its future expansion.”

“We would also like to thank Rhode Island resident and DPC Patient Ambassador, Theodore Chaplin, for his tireless efforts in pressing for passage,” said Elizabeth Lively, Eastern Region Advocacy Director. “Mr. Chaplin was under age 65 when we first started working on this legislation, and despite recently turning 65, his steadfast advocacy helped to impress upon policy makers the life-changing impact that this legislation could make.”

“On behalf of my fellow dialysis patients in Rhode Island, I am very happy that access to Medigap coverage for under age 65 ESRD patients has been passed by the Rhode Island General Assembly,” said DPC Patient Ambassador, Theodore Chaplin. “Dialysis is not glamorous or as well known to the public like diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. This legislation provides much needed equity for under age 65 dialysis patients, offering greater financial security and access to kidney transplant. Thank you, Representative Kennedy and Senator Algiere for working so hard on our behalf. This is a good day for dialysis patients in Rhode Island.”

The Rhode Island Health Insurance Commissioner will adopt regulations for premium rate standards that are consistent with the interests of the public. Medigap Plan A will be guarantee-issue providing applications are submitted during the first six months following the applicant’s initial eligibility for Medicare Part B or during an alternate enrollment period as determined by the commissioner.

The legislation now moves to Governor Dan McKee for his signature. The legislation will take effect on July 1, 2023.