Bill — passed unanimously — would prohibit insurer discrimination against living organ donors
ROCKVILLE, Md. (February 27, 2019) – The American Kidney Fund (AKF), the nation's leading nonprofit working on behalf of the 30 million Americans living with kidney disease, is urging Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson sign SB 309 which could help increase the availability of organs for transplant from living donors by preventing insurance companies from charging higher premiums to living donors or refusing to insure them altogether. The bill was passed unanimously by the Arkansas Senate last week and by the House of Representatives yesterday.
AKF is grateful to the bill's sponsors, Sen. Mark Johnson, Rep. Mark Perry and Rep. Jack Ladyman, as well as the chairmen of the state's Insurance and Commerce Committee, Sen. Jason Rapert and Rep. Mark Lowery, and to all of Arkansas' lawmakers who voted unanimously in support of living organ donation. SB309 would prohibit life, disability and long-term care insurance companies from denying or limiting coverage and from charging higher premiums for living organ donors.
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. More than 6,400 living-donor kidney transplants were performed last year in the United States, including just eight in Arkansas. Kidneys are the most common organ transplanted from living donors, followed by liver and lung.
Prohibiting insurers from discriminating against living donors is sound public policy backed up by research which has shown that people who donate a kidney live just as long as similarly healthy people who have both kidneys. In fact, a person may only donate a kidney if he or she is in excellent health.
Nationwide, 114,000 Americans are on the waiting list for organ transplants, including nearly 96,000 who are waiting for a kidney. In Arkansas, 208 people are on the kidney transplant waiting list.
"We urge Governor Hutchinson to add Arkansas to a growing list of states that have recognized the importance of removing barriers to living organ donation," said LaVarne A. Burton, AKF president and CEO. "Encouraging living donation that could increase the supply of kidneys for Americans living with end-stage renal disease isn't just a humanitarian gesture; it's also smart fiscal policy."
AKF provides long-term financial assistance that makes transplants and post-transplant care possible for low-income dialysis patients. In 2018, AKF helped more than 1,000 people nationwide have transplants, including 12 in Arkansas. 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.