Protect Life-Saving Charitable Patient Assistance
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An Open Letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte
We write this letter on behalf of those who cannot afford but need access to life-saving and life-extending treatments.
One in four adults turn down medical care because of costs, while medical debt is the number one reason Americans file for bankruptcy. When seeking desperately needed treatments, more and more individuals are finding themselves underinsured and in need of patient assistance charities. The safety net provided by charities is not a perfect solution, however it is currently the only available financial resource to hundreds of thousands of Medicare patients who face debilitating, life-altering and oftentimes life-threatening diseases but cannot afford their treatment.
Growing public criticism on the rising costs of drugs is being directly associated with patient assistance charities. This has had a significant impact on the ability of these charities to raise funds, thereby threatening patients and families in need.
There is no policy to fix the holes in government-sponsored health insurance plans that patient assistance charities were established to address. But now government officials are endangering these programs, and, most importantly, the chronically ill patients who are unable to afford their life-sustaining medical treatment.
These charities operate at no cost to the tax-payer by government design. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued best practice guidelines that have led to the establishment of safeguards to prevent outside influence on patient and provider choices of treatments. Importantly, before a person receives charitable assistance, they have already met with a physician, been given a diagnosis, and prescribed a therapy plan. It is only after this point that a patient can seek to obtain charitable assistance.
The federal government should continue to work with these charities and protect patient assistance.
No one should have to choose between treatment and necessities of life such as food and shelter. Charitable assistance is needed more than ever to serve as a bridge to care in this country. Medical treatments can come with a lengthy list of unfortunate side effects. Bankruptcy should not be one of them.
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