A Texas federal judge today extended a block on a federal rule that would require dialysis providers to disclose any charitable assistance patients receive to insurers.
The indefinite extension was granted by U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant in Sherman, Texas, in a suit filed by dialysis providers including Fresenius Medical Care (NYSE:FMS), DaVita.
The rule, which was announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Dec. 14, met resistance from providers who said insurers would use the information to refuse coverage to patients.
Charities, most prominently the American Kidney Fund, provide financial assistance to patients to offset the high cost of dialysis. Fresenius, DaVita and U.S. Renal Care all donate to the AKF, according to the suit, and both Fresenius and DaVita revealed that they had received subpoenas from federal prosecutors about their connections to the organization.
The HHS said it believed financial aid was being inappropriately used to guide Medicare or Medicaid patients to sign up for private insurance on the Affordable Care Act market place, which is beneficial to providers. The agency claimed that such manipulation was harmful to patients by making it harder for them to get kidney transplants, which charities do not cover.
The HHS also said such manipulation could affect the functionality of the ACA’s marketplace.
The dialysis companies objected, saying patients preferred private insurance, and that the new rule would allow discrimination from insurers. The companies also claimed the true motive behind the law was not to protect patients, but attract insurers to the ACA exchanges.
Earlier this month, Judge Mazzant granted a temporary hold on the rule while he considered the case more thoroughly.
Material from Reuters was used in this post.