Finding out I needed to start dialysis two years ago was tough to accept. I’d always been an athlete, so I felt like this wasn’t something I’d have to face. But after low kidney counts for more than 5 years, I had to start treatments.

Beyond difficult treatments, the financial burden they come with is enormous. I’m fortunate, however, to have a job at Life Alert Emergency Response that lets me tailor my schedule so I can stay employed and still receive health coverage. However, even between that plan and the secondary coverage I receive through Medicare, my monthly costs can exceed $350. I’m scared to think of what might happen if I were to lose my primary coverage.

That’s the reality for many dialysis patients who rely on Medicare. It only covers up to 80 percent of the cost of dialysis, so the financial burden is massive for patients and families. And here in California, dialysis patients under 65 can’t get Medigap plans to help pay the remaining cost at all.

We need lawmakers to step in by supporting the Jack Reynolds Memorial Medigap Expansion Act, which would make those plans available to all patients. Congressman Tony C├írdenas already sponsors this bill, and I’m hoping California’s other representatives join in helping to pass this bill.

I’m a fighter and always do my best to remain optimistic, but dealing with the costs of dialysis is a major struggle. Dialysis patients across the country feel the same, and are counting on Congress to help.

David Abeyta
Van Nuys, Los Angeles

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