New legislation aimed at protecting living donors
In March, the Living Donor Protection Act of 2017 was introduced by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA). The aim of the legislation is to ensure those who are living organ donors are able to find insurance and have job protection when they take the necessary time off for the lifesaving procedure of donating an organ.
Some of the insurance protections in the bill include making it illegal to:
- Decline or limit coverage of a person under any life insurance policy, disability insurance policy, or long-term care insurance policy due to the status of such a person as a living organ donor;
- Preclude a person from donating all or part of an organ as a condition of receiving a life insurance policy, disability insurance policy, or long-term care insurance policy;
- Consider the status of a person as a living organ donor in determining the premium rate for such a person
The bill also changes the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include organ donation surgery as a qualifying medical condition that would allow those who do donate an organ to take the leave afforded to people under FMLA.
“As a kidney donor it was very important to have the necessary time off work to recover from a surgery of that magnitude. I remember my doctor telling me I needed to be off work for 6 weeks, but my employer would only pay me for being off three weeks. I went back to work on the 4th week, and I had a relapse in the office. We as donors need time to recover,” said Margie Branch of Memphis, who donated a kidney to her son Reginald when he was two-years-old. “Living donors are very important to our loved ones who need an organ. We help ensure a better quality of life for family, friends, loved ones and even strangers.”
Ms. Branch added that “We also need disability insurance in place to cover the gap in our salary.” While providing disability insurance is not a part of the Living Donor Protection Act, her comment further illustrates the sacrifices that organ donors make and the need for additional protections.
Reps. Nadler and Herrera Beutler issued the following joint statement announcing the introduction of the Living Donor Protection Act:
"Every year, thousands of Americans donate kidneys, livers, and other organs to save the lives of family members, friends, and even complete strangers facing life-threatening illnesses. Organ donation saves lives and saves money, cutting health care costs by as much as two-thirds and saving Medicare millions of dollars every year. The Living Donor Protection Act will ensure that Americans who make the life-saving choice to become organ donors won’t face economic roadblocks because of their decision. Under this bipartisan legislation, living organ donors will be able to access insurance and use the medical leave they need, giving donors more certainty and, it is our hope, encourage more Americans to give the incredible gift of organ donation."