Contributed by Russell Desmond
I am a Sacramento resident who has been on dialysis since 2010. That is nine years of living with kidney failure. The invaluable assistance I receive from the American Kidney Fund (AKF) to cover my health costs—including the treatments that keep me alive—is in danger.
Like so many dialysis patients, I would not be able to afford my health insurance without the charitable premium assistance AKF provides. If our state legislators are supposed to protect our interests and well-being, why are they considering legislation like AB 290 (Wood) that will result in harm to me, and thousands of patients like me?
I have worked since I was 15-years-old, but the intensity of my illness required me to stop working and accept disability payments. These payments help, but do not come close to covering my living costs and my medical expenses.
After paying for my rent, car and basic living costs with the small amount of money I have, there is just not enough left to pay for my health insurance premiums. AKF is a life raft in the turbulent ocean that is kidney failure.
Our health care system is far from perfect, but punching a hole in my life raft is not going to fix it.
If AB 290 passes and AKF is forced to stop its charitable premium assistance program in California, I will have some very tough choices to make. Even on a disability income, I make too much for Medi-Cal and I will not be able to afford my Medicare and Medigap premiums. I honestly do not know what I will do.
And I am not the only person facing this struggle.
There are so many others like me who needed charitable help during the lowest points of their lives. AKF stepped in and provided the stability and support we needed to continue moving forward without any hesitation.
AB 290 would be catastrophic for me and my family, and so I am calling on California state senators—and my senator, Senator Richard Pan, who is the chairman of the Senate Health Committee—to vote no on 290 to protect patients like me who depend on AKF to survive.
To learn more about the American Kidney Fund, go to: https://www.kidneyfund.org/