HHS Kidney Health Care Program Increases Benefits for Participants

November 23, 2021

Starting this month, Texans who receive services from the HHS Kidney Health Care program will receive more help in paying for transportation to treatment facilities.

The program increased its travel reimbursement benefit from 13 cents per mile to 20 cents per mile for patients seeking health care treatment who do not qualify for Medicaid medical transportation benefits. This is the first time since the KHC program started in 1973 that it has increased the mileage reimbursement rate.

The program also is increasing the maximum number of reimbursable medically necessary round trips to dialysis centers from 13 to 14. Together, these measures will greatly benefit participants who might otherwise have difficulty receiving lifesaving medical treatment.

“The Kidney Health Care program is thrilled to have the opportunity to support our fellow Texans,” said Marc Terrazas, operations branch manager of the HHSC Office of Primary and Specialty Health, which oversees the program. “We continually seek to enhance our programs to make a positive difference in the lives of the people we serve.”

Johnny Johnson, a Houston-area resident who has been receiving services through the program since 2009, said he makes three 24-mile round trips every week to receive dialysis.

“Every bit helps,” Johnson said about the rate increase.

KHC assists about 18,926 Texans each year in paying for expenses for end-stage kidney disease treatment, including dialysis, medications, surgery and Medicare premiums.

The program is available to Texas residents who meet all of the following eligibility requirements:

  • Earn less than $60,000 per year.
  • Have a diagnosis of end-stage renal disease from a licensed physician.
  • Get regular dialysis treatments or have had a kidney transplant.
  • Meet Medicare’s definition of end-stage renal disease.
  • Are not eligible for Medicaid medical, drug or travel benefits.

The KHC program was able to increase the reimbursement rate without spending more money from its budget because Medicare is being used more often to cover the cost of people’s medications, which made more money available for the program to use for other services.

For more information, review the Kidney Health Care Client Handbook (PDF).