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Vitale-Karcher Bill To Offer Outpatient Dialysis For Uninsured Approved

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Joseph F. Vitale and Ellen Karcher which would require ambulatory care facilities in New Jersey to provide uncompensated outpatient renal dialysis services for uninsured, low-income people was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 34-0.

“More than 1.3 million New Jerseyans are currently living without even the most basic health care coverage,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “Without insurance, minor medical conditions can seem like emergencies, and even life-saving procedures like renal dialysis can be out of reach for those who need it. This measure would ensure that, even for those New Jerseyans without insurance, anyone who need dialysis treatments to survive will have access.”

“Dialysis is not an elective medical procedure, but a necessary, life-sustaining treatment for people living with renal disease and kidney problems,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer, the Vice Chair of the Committee. “We need to ensure that economics or the lack of health insurance do not contribute to New Jerseyans foregoing medically necessary treatment. Dialysis is not a luxury for the wealthy, but a medical procedure that’s necessary for people of all economic backgrounds.”

The bill, S-1250, would require ambulatory renal dialysis facilities to provide a specific amount of renal dialysis services without charge to certain uninsured low-income persons with a total family gross income that would qualify them for charity care services under the current law. The bill states that facilities would be required to provide treatment and services in an amount equal to the Medicare rate of reimbursement for up to 3.5 % of their total dialysis treatments and medication associated with dialysis. Compliance with the regulations of this bill would become a condition of licensure and renewal for outpatient dialysis facilities in New Jersey.

“Many dialysis patients live normal lives with renal disease, and an outpatient setting makes sense,” said Senator Karcher. “New Jerseyans working for hourly wages often do not have access to health insurance from their employers, and cannot afford to take time off for dialysis treatments in a hospital. This bill addresses their needs and protects low-income residents from having to choose between health or money.”

“New Jersey has a history of standing up for our low-income residents who need access to quality health care,” said Senator Vitale. “Our hospitals provide charity care services to uninsured patients admitted into their emergency rooms, and we provide for FamilyCare health insurance for low-income families. This bill is an extension of the belief that health care is a right, not a privilege for the wealthy.”

The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.

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