WASHINGTON, D.C. --Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), joined by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), introduced the Living Donor Protection Act of 2019 to protect the rights of living organ donors.
Organ donation saves thousands of lives every year, but roadblocks remain that too often stop individuals from becoming living donors. Last year, after pressure from Congress, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a legal opinion stating that individuals who choose to donate an organ are covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The Living Donor Protection Act would codify the DOL's guidance to protect living donors in the private and civil service sector, remove one of the largest barrier to organ donation, and provide certainty to donors and recipients.
Further, according a 2014 study in the American Journal of Transplantation, as many as 27% of living organ donors experience difficulty securing or paying for insurance after their procedures because of discriminatory practices.
The Living Donor Protection Act would protect living organ donors and promote organ donation in three easy, low-cost ways:
1) Prohibits life, disability, and long term care insurance companies from denying or limiting coverage and from charging higher premiums for living organ donors;
2) Amends the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to specifically include living organ donation as a serious health condition for private and civil service employees; and
3) Directs HHS to update their materials on live organ donation to reflect these new protections and encourage more individuals to consider donating an organ.
"Every year, 6,000 Americans become living donors of kidneys, livers, and other organs to save the lives of family members, friends, colleagues, and even complete strangers," said Congressman Nadler. "But every 10 minutes, another name is added to the transplant waitlist. This Living Donor Protection Act, which I am proud to sponsor again this Congress, will provide critical protections for living donors and remove economic roadblocks that too often make it impossible to become a living donor. Ensuring that donors have the time they need to heal following donation and can continue to afford insurance going forward will give donors more certainty and encourage more Americans to make the gift of living organ donation."
"Organ donation is the gift of life. I am proud to work with colleagues in both the House and Senate on this bipartisan legislation to protect living donors and removing existing barriers to donation. Life-saving organ donations also saves Medicare millions of dollars and cut costs across the health care system, which means it helps meet my goal of delivering better health care to Southwest Washington residents,” Rep. Herrera Beutler said. “I will continue to champion common-sense, bipartisan measures that seek to match life-saving organs with the thousands of Americans currently waiting for them."
"There are far too many people who have to wait in order to receive a life-saving organ donation. The bipartisan Living Donor Protection Act would help ensure that the individuals who are willing to save someone’s life through an organ donation can do so without worrying that they’ll face insurance discrimination or that they could lose their job as they recover from this invasive procedure," said Senator Gillibrand. "These are critical protections that the selfless individuals who choose to become living donors need, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to pass this legislation."
"Organ donors make an extraordinary sacrifice so someone else can have a new chance at life," said Senator Cotton. "The Living Donor Protection Act would encourage more donors to step forward by protecting them from adverse consequences like denial of coverage, higher health-insurance premiums, and job loss."
"Today, four champions in Congress stood up for organ donors and for the 100,000 Americans waiting on a kidney transplant," said Kevin Longino, Chief Executive Officer, National Kidney Foundation and a kidney transplant patient. "The National Kidney Foundation is proud to have worked closely with these Congressional champions on the Living Donor Protection Act and we applaud them for their willingness to reach across the aisle to help protect living donors and reduce some of the barriers to donation."
"The American Society of Transplantation (AST), representing a majority of medical professionals engaged in the field of solid organ transplantation, strongly supports the bipartisan and bicameral reintroduction of the Living Donor Protection Act in the 116th Congress. The AST applauds Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) & Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) as well as Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) & Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) for seeking this common sense approach to protect and promote the gift of living organ donation. The Living Donor Protection Act of 2019 is a thoughtful public policy proposal that would immediately improve the lives of those seeking to donate life, individuals awaiting a lifesaving donor organ and their families," stated AST President, Dianne McKay, MD.
"Removing barriers to living donation is a critical part of expanding access to life-saving transplants for those suffering from end-stage organ disease," said Dixon B. Kaufman, MD, PhD, President of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons. "The American Society of Transplant Surgeons strongly supports this milestone legislation and applauds Senators Cotton and Gillibrand and Representatives Nadler and Herrera-Beutler for introducing it. The legislation targets two important impediments to organ donation: employment security and insurance coverage. Advancing this legislation will make a real difference for these individuals and their families."
The bill has support from numerous groups that advocate on behalf of organ transplantation, including endorsements by the American Association of Kidney Patients, American Society of Transplant Surgeons, the American Society of Transplantation, the National Kidney Foundation, the American Society of Nephrology, and the Renal Physicians Association.