American Kidney Fund
The AKF provides comprehensive programs of kidney health awareness, education, and prevention. It provides financial assistance that helps 1 out of every 5 U.S. dialysis patients to access health care. In 2016, the American Kidney Fund provided treatment-related grant assistance to more than 98,000 low-income dialysis patients in 50 states, and provided free kidney health screenings in cities across the country.
The American Kidney Fund is headquartered in North Bethesda, Maryland (with a Rockville mailing address). As a 15-time recipient of the top “Four Star” rating from Charity Navigator, the American Kidney Fund is ranked among the top 1 percent of charities nationwide for fiscal accountability. AKF spends 97 cents of every donated dollar on patients and programs and is listed on Charity Navigator's Top 10 charities nationwide that have received the most consecutive four-star ratings. In addition, AKF holds an A+ rating from CharityWatch; adheres to the National Health Council Standards of Excellence; and is a member of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.
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The American Kidney Fund's grant programs help low-income dialysis patients to access health care, including dialysis and transplantation. AKF provides grants that help with health insurance premiums and other treatment necessities not covered by health insurance, such as transportation to dialysis, nutritional products and emergency assistance.
AKF also provides disaster relief to assist dialysis patients affected by natural disasters and provides summer enrichment grants to help children living with kidney failure to attend specialized summer programs.
AKF provided free kidney health screenings to more than 10,000 people in 23 U.S. cities in 2016. AKF holds large community outreach events, Kidney Action Day, bringing free health screenings and healthy living information to people at high risk for kidney disease. In 2016, AKF held Kidney Action Day events in Alabama (Bessemer), Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
The organization's public health education initiatives provide valuable information to patients and caregivers about all aspects of kidney disease and treatment, along with material on how kidney disease can be prevented. Through extensive online information, downloadable fact sheets and tools, a free monthly webinar series, a toll-free health information HelpLine for the public (866-300-2900), and a Kidney Health Educator program, AKF helps people understand their risk for kidney disease and what they can do to prevent it.
The American Kidney Fund offers a free online professional education series of courses designed to keep health professionals stay apprised of the best practices and latest information about kidney disease and kidney disease prevention.
The American Kidney Fund raises funds from individuals, corporations and foundations. Individuals can donate by making direct donations, including those in memory or honor of someone; by holding a fundraiser through AKF's KIDNEYNATION; by donating a car, truck, boat or RV; by making a gift of stock; or through estate planning. Each fall, AKF holds a fundraising gala, The Hope Affair, in Washington, D.C., honoring inspirational patients, caregivers and fundraisers who are making a difference in their communities.
According to the New York Times, the Kidney Fund has favored patients from clinics that contributed to the Kidney Fund, and discouraged other clinics from applying for assistance. Fresenius and DaVita provide nearly 80% of the Kidney Fund’s funding. According to Tracey Dickey, a social worker, the Kidney Fund sent her guidelines which said that “If your company cannot make fair and equitable contributions, we respectfully request that your organization not refer patients.” LaVarne A. Burton, the Kidney Fund’s chief executive, said that Ms. Dickey had misunderstood the guidelines. In a statement on its website, the Kidney Fund called the article "factually incorrect and unfair," and said that they have never turned away a patient who was financially qualified to receive a grant, and that 40% of dialysis providers with patients receiving help don’t contribute anything to the Kidney Fund.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) charged that dialysis providers steered patients to private insurance companies, which cost patients more, rather than to Medicaid and Medicare, which cost patients less but had lower reimbursements for the providers. The providers used the Kidney Fund's subsidies to help patients buy the more-expensive private insurance, according to the CMS. According to the Wall Street Journal, "The rule took aim at a setup that has come under fire from health insurers, particularly those offering plans on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces. Under the setup, dialysis patients get help paying their health-insurance premiums from a charity, which itself gets funding from dialysis providers." On its website, the American Kidney Fund explains how its charitable premium assistance program works and why it is an essential part of the safety net for low-income dialysis patients.
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