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Cramer Leads Bipartisan Letter on Charitable Health Assistance with Support from 40% of House Chamber

May 31, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) sent a bipartisan letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price today with 183 of his colleagues in the House of Representatives.

The letter, led by Cramer and co-led by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), expresses concern over a rule issued in 2014 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which encourages qualified health plans to discriminate against people with rare and chronic diseases by rejecting them on the basis of the insurance premium and cost sharing assistance that they receive from nonprofit organizations.

“It’s hard to believe that – due to a 2014 CMS rule – a health plan is allowed to deny coverage to a chronically-sick patient just because they’re receiving donations from their local church or a nonprofit, but that’s what’s happening today in at least 41 states.” Cramer said. “The federal government should overturn this rule and let charities be charitable. By allowing nonprofit charities to provide premium assistance to those most in need, we are providing a free market safety net for the most vulnerable among us to stay on health insurance. This practice should be encouraged, not discouraged.”

For decades, nonprofit patient assistance organizations have provided vital services to Americans who suffer from rare and chronic conditions.  These organizations serve as a safety net for those most in need, enabling access to life-sustaining and life-saving therapies while preventing individuals and families from experiencing financial crises, such as bankruptcy and home foreclosures.  In 2014, CMS promulgated a rule entitled Third Party Payment of Qualified Health Plan Premiums (CMS-8943-IFC), which confirmed the use of charitable assistance for certain groups such as tribal organizations and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. However, the rule left nonprofit charities, places of worship, and local civic organizations off the list of approved third party payers. The noticeable absence of these groups has allowed health insurance plans in 41 states to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions over the past four years.

During the 114th Congress, Cramer introduced the Access to Marketplace Insurance Act to address the problem. The bill received 147 bipartisan cosponsors and was featured in the House Republican’s Better Way Plan to address health care.