The American Kidney Fund, in the NY Times, and riposte from the AKF

from Market Design at on December 30, 2016 at 05:44AM

In a nuanced back and forth, the NY Times has suggested that the American Kidney Fund is abusing its status as a charity for patients who can’t otherwise afford dialysis by only encouraging applications from patients at clinics which contribute to the AKF. They reply that this isn’t the case.

Here’s the NY Times story: Kidney Fund Seen Insisting on Donations, Contrary to Government Deal

"The American Kidney Fund is one of the largest charities in the country, with an annual budget of over $250 million. Its marquee program helps pay insurance premiums for thousands of people who need dialysis, a lifesaving and expensive treatment for kidney failure.

"The organization has earned accolades for its efficient use of the money.
"Under an agreement with the federal government, the Kidney Fund must distribute the aid based on a patient’s financial need. But the charity has resisted giving aid to patients at clinics that do not donate money to the fund, an investigation by The New York Times has found. The actions have limited crucial help for needy patients at these clinics. The agreement governing the relationship between the group and the companies forbids choosing patients based on their clinic."

Here’s the AKF’s response: Our response to Sunday’s New York Times article

"An article in the business section of Sunday’s New York Times presented a factually incorrect and unfair picture of the American Kidney Fund (AKF) and the lifesaving work that we do through our Health Insurance Premium Program (HIPP). We have reached out to the Times to request corrections on the most serious factual errors and misleading statements. In the wake of this article there are several key points that we feel are essential to emphasize:

  • Since we are a charitable organization, we do ask all providers to contribute to our program—but we never require it.
  • We have never turned away a patient who is financially qualified to receive a grant, and we never will turn away such a patient.
  • We never condition our issuing of grants on whether a provider has contributed to AKF, and fully 40 percent of dialysis providers with patients receiving help from AKF don’t contribute anything to AKF.  
  • There is no “earmarking” of donations.
  • HIPP has firewalls in place to protect the integrity of the program."

The agreement linked to in the NY Times article (to put it in context) is  Advisory Opinion No. 97-1  of the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.