Reaction to Supreme Court Ruling on Dialysis

Several professional and patient advocacy groups have spoken out about the Supreme Court decision in Marietta Memorial Hospital v. DaVita regarding employer-sponsored health plan coverage of dialysis.

In a press release from the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), Kevin Longino, CEO of NKF, said, “The National Kidney Foundation is deeply disturbed by the recent Supreme Court ruling on Marietta Memorial Hospital v. DaVita, which functionally exempts employer-sponsored health plans [from] covering maintenance dialysis for individuals with kidney failure.”

The press release continues by saying the impact of the ruling on patients “Cannot be understated. Some individuals with kidney failure will have to pay for both Medicare benefits (which cover their dialysis needs) and their employer-sponsored benefits (which may cover supplemental services such as vison and dental). Other patients may have to transition to Medicare completely and potentially lose supplemental benefits. Others still might choose to leave the workforce rather than have their wages subsidize benefits that are not fully available to them. In each of these scenarios, patients lose their agency to select the health plan that maximizes affordability and access, as well as the ability to fully engage in meaningful work. This is untenable.”

NKF will continue efforts to support legislative and policy changes aimed at creation of increased choices for those with kidney failure and improvement in affordability, including Medigap expansion legislation, policy changes to drive competition in kidney care, and other protections to protect patient choice.

The release added, “Especially in the face of the high court’s ruling, we will accelerate our advocacy to ensure that patients have access to high quality, affordable treatment options for their kidney failure.”

The American Kidney Fund (AKF) also issued a press release expressing concern about the ruling and its potential impact on health care access for patients living with kidney failure who depend on dialysis to survive.

LaVarne A. Burton, AKF president and CEO, said, “With this decision, the stage is set for the crisis in kidney disease to get even worse. Patients may lose vital benefits, and they may not have the ability to select the health plan that they need to survive and that best works for their personal circumstances.

“People who live in underserved communities, including Black and rural Americans, are hit hardest by kidney failure. AKF is concerned that this ruling will exacerbate the disproportionate impact that kidney failure has on these communities and jeopardize access to life-saving care.

“The American Kidney Fund stands committed to fighting on all fronts on behalf of all those affected by kidney disease and will strongly advocate for policy solutions to address the challenges created by this Supreme Court Ruling.”