ROCKVILLE, Md. (July 29, 2021) — The American Kidney Fund (AKF) commends Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont for signing into law important protections for living organ donors and taking steps to address kidney disease in the state. H.B. 6387 prohibits life, disability and long-term care insurers from discriminating against living organ donors and provides that such discrimination constitutes a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act. Additionally, the new law establishes a Chronic Kidney Disease Advisory Committee, or task force, that will study kidney disease, living and deceased donor kidney transplantation for those with kidney failure, and the disproportionately high rates of kidney disease among racial and ethnic minorities.
AKF worked closely with Rep. Tammy Exum to move H.B. 6387 through the Connecticut General Assembly and is thankful for her commitment to improving the lives of people with kidney disease and living organ donors in the state. AKF is spearheading the nationwide effort to pass living donor protections at the state level. Since 2019, 18 states have signed living donor protections into law, including Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Jersey and Washington earlier this year. AKF is also spearheading the implementation of kidney disease task force legislation in states across the country to help combat the rising incidence of kidney disease nationwide. AKF worked to pass laws creating similar task forces in Colorado and Louisiana this year, and in Illinois and Texas last year.
Increasing living donor protections is a cornerstone of AKF's policy agenda, and earlier this year, AKF released its first annual State of the States: Living Donor Protection Report Card, which measures seven types of legislation states should enact to provide protections for living organ donors and encourage living donations. In the absence of federal legislation to protect living donors, there is an uneven patchwork of protections across the nation, with some states providing no protections at all. The overall grade average for the United States is a D.
Prior to this new law, Connecticut was one of only two states in the country to receive an A grade on AKF's Report Card. H.B 6387 strengthens protections for living donors in Connecticut and adds to existing laws that include providing living donors with more than 60 days of paid and job-protected leave from both private and public employers, and offer tax credits for donor expenses.
"Governor Lamont's signature on this bill will further protect living kidney donors in a state that is already leading the way when it comes to encouraging living organ donation," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF President and CEO. "Living donor protections like these ultimately save lives by increasing the number of kidneys and other organs available for residents of Connecticut awaiting transplantation. By taking the extra step to also establish a kidney disease task force, Connecticut has proven that it is not only committed to helping kidney failure patients and those who make the selfless, lifesaving gift of organ donation, but also to preventing kidney disease in the first place."
Once implemented, the law will allow the state insurance commissioner to conduct investigations and hearings, issue cease and desist orders, and impose fines against insurers found to be engaging in discrimination against living organ donors. The kidney disease task force will also study and make policy recommendations for increasing kidney disease awareness in the state, and work with policymakers, public health entities and educational institutions to create educational health programs to reduce the burden of kidney disease on residents of Connecticut.
Most transplanted organs are from deceased donors, but patients may also receive organs from living donors. Living donation offers an alternative for individuals awaiting transplantation from a deceased donor and increases the existing organ supply. Transplants from living donors generally have fewer complications than deceased-donor transplants and a longer survival of the donor organ.
There are more than 107,000 Americans on the organ transplant waiting list and nearly 93,000 of them, or 86%, are waiting for a kidney. Nearly 1,000 Connecticut residents are on the kidney transplant waiting list. Of the 23,644 kidney transplants performed in the U.S. in 2020, just 5,234 were made possible by living organ donors. In Connecticut, 60 of 239 kidney transplants in 2020 were from living donors.
Among its many programs, AKF provides long-term financial assistance that makes transplants and post-transplant care possible for low-income dialysis patients. In 2020, AKF grants helped 1,615 people nationwide receive kidney transplants — 7% of all kidney transplants performed in the United States last year. AKF's program helps post-transplant patients for their full insurance plan year, ensuring continuity of care.
About the American Kidney Fund
The American Kidney Fund (AKF) fights kidney disease on all fronts as the nation’s leading kidney nonprofit. AKF works on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, and the millions more at risk, with an unmatched scope of programs that support people wherever they are in their fight against kidney disease—from prevention through transplant. With programs that address early detection, disease management, financial assistance, clinical research, innovation and advocacy, no kidney organization impacts more lives than AKF. One of the nation’s top-rated nonprofits, AKF invests 97 cents of every donated dollar in programs, earning the highest 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator for 20 years in a row as well as the Platinum Seal of Transparency from Candid, formerly GuideStar.