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Vitale-Karcher Bill To Offer Outpatient Dialysis For Uninsured Is Now Law

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Joseph F. Vitale and Ellen Karcher which will require ambulatory care facilities in New Jersey to provide uncompensated outpatient renal dialysis services for uninsured, low-income people was signed into law on Friday by Governor Codey.

“For the many low-income New Jerseyans suffering from renal disease and kidney failure, this is great news,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “Our State is taking a big step to ensure access to life-sustaining dialysis treatments, without consideration of a patient’s ability to pay. We have made a bold statement that someone’s economic status shouldn’t prohibit them from receiving necessary medical attention and health care.”

“Throughout the process, we heard from those people living every day with renal disease, and the hardships they have to endure to live their lives and get adequate treatment,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer, the Vice Chair of the Senate Health Committee. “For New Jersey’s working poor, many of whom are paid an hourly wage, an overnight stay in an in-patient dialysis setting means less money to feed their families, or take care of other basic needs. This new law will allow them to receive needed dialysis treatments on their schedule, and spare them the difficult decision of a day’s pay, or their health.”

The new law, S-1250, will 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 will 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 will become a condition of licensure and renewal for outpatient dialysis facilities in New Jersey.

“When it comes down to it, we’re asking individual facilities to spare a small amount of their profit margin to help meet New Jersey’s health care access needs,” said Senator Karcher. “Ultimately, with each of these facilities pitching in, we will be able to ensure access to outpatient dialysis for those who need the treatments, but cannot afford health insurance.”

“New Jersey has a proud tradition of standing up for the working poor,” said Senator Vitale. “We don’t turn our backs on the economically disadvantaged when it comes to providing access to quality health care. This new law is an extension of the philosophy that so many of us share on the State level – health care is a basic right, and we need to do all we can to ensure access for all.”

The bill was approved by the Senate in February, and received final approval by the Assembly in March.

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