Alonzo Mourning Advocates for Kidney Patients on Capitol Hill

Former NBA star raises awareness about kidney failure patients

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    In recognition of World Kidney Day, former Georgetown University stand-out, NBA all-star and kidney patient advocate Alonzo Mourning met with key lawmakers and White House staff Thursday.

    Mourning is trying to raise awareness about kidney disease and urge lawmakers to ensure individuals diagnosed with kidney failure receive equal treatment under the health care reform law.

    Under current law, individuals who have been diagnosed with kidney failure who have group health plan coverage are allowed to maintain their private coverage for 30 months before being enrolled in Medicare. However, under the new health care reform law's health benefit exchange program, it is unclear whether individuals who enroll in health exchanges and are diagnosed with kidney failure will be granted the same right, if they so choose, to maintain private coverage for an extended period of time as people with group health coverage purchased outside of the exchanges.

    "As someone who suffered from kidney disease but was fortunate enough to have had a kidney transplant, I am proud to speak out for our nation's kidney patients and ask lawmakers to see to it that the health reform law fully protects individuals with kidney failure as it seeks to protect all other Americans," Mourning said. "We urge our friends on Capitol Hill and the White House officials to grant individuals with kidney failure the same right to maintain private coverage as people with group health coverage purchased outside of the exchanges before the Medicare benefit kicks in. This is simply an issue of fairness and parity for patients, and it is truly what the intentions were when health care reform legislation passed. "

    Mourning had his kidney transplant in 2003.