Crist Signs Zo Kidney Bill

"He's taller than anyone you will ever meet," governor says

Alonzo Mourning, all 6-foot, 10-inches of him, returned Wednesday to Tallahassee to watch Gov. Charlie Crist sign into law a kidney transplant bill named for the former Miami Heat star.

Mourning, himself a kidney transplant recipient, had visited the Florida Capitol in April to seek support from Crist and lawmakers
for the bill.

"He is taller than anyone you'll ever meet, and not in a physical way," Crist said at the signing ceremony. "I mean, he stands up and stacks up because of his goodness."

Crist and Mourning then visited with patients at a DaVita dialysis center where the governor signed the measure. The Alonzo Mourning Access to Care Act will let patients under 65 with end-stage renal disease and other disabilities obtain Medigap insurance if they already qualify for Medicare. That will count as the second of two coverages patients need to get on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. Medigap is private insurance designed to pick up expenses not covered by Medicare.

"You should not have to exhaust your assets in order to cater to your health care," Mourning said. "That's ridiculous."

The average annual rate for the most basic Medgap policy with preventive care and hospital and physician coinsurance coverage is
about $1,000, the report said. In Maryland, the same plan costs about $590. Crist said he was less worried about the cost than the lives the legislation may save.

 "We've got to care about people first and always," Crist said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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