Welcome back to our What's Happening in the States series, where we provide quarterly legislative updates on what the American Kidney Fund (AKF) is working on across the country to improve the lives of those living with kidney disease and protect living organ donors.
As we mentioned in our last post, all 50 states plus D.C. are or have been in session this year, which has made for an eventful spring and start to summer! Almost 30 sessions adjourned since our last post and at least 10 states are still in session or working through a special session — which is when a legislature convenes outside of the normal session time.
We continue to see progress in the states on living donor protections throughout the country. Nevada and Rhode Island passed new living donor protections this year, and we are tracking bills in Massachusetts and Michigan, which have almost full-year sessions. Here is where these bills currently stand in their respective legislatures:
- Nevada's Living Donor Protection Act was filed by Sen. Julie Pazina and signed by Gov. Joe Lombardo in May. Rhode Island also extended insurance protections to living donors through Rep. John Edwards' HB 5489, a bill that Gov. Dan McKee signed into law in June.
- In Massachusetts, Rep. Driscoll filed H 1000 which received a committee hearing in June. AKF was well represented with testimony from Jon Hoffman, senior director of state policy and advocacy, and AKF Ambassador and transplant recipient, David Walsh. Watch the hearing here.
- Michigan's living donor protections bill is SB 384, introduced by Sen. Kevin Hertel. The Michigan Senate passed the bill in late June, and it is currently pending in the House. We expect the Committee on Health Policy to hold a hearing in the fall. If you live in Michigan, be sure to contact your legislator to ask them to become a cosponsor for this bill!
In addition to these living donor protection bills, Texas is working on other ways to promote living organ donation. Specifically, it has passed a new bill that will create a living donor education program, aimed at teaching people about living organ donation and the incredible need that exists in the state. Sen. Kelly Hancock, a transplant recipient, filed the bill this spring, and Gov. Greg Abbott signed it into law in May. The program will be a collaboration between the state's donor database and its Department of Health and Human Services.
We are also tracking progress to expand access to biomarker and Medigap coverage (Medicare supplemental insurance). The New York General Assembly passed legislation to extend coverage, but we await Gov. Kathy Hochul's signature or veto. Minnesota, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas join the list of states that have expanded coverage for biomarker testing. Medigap bills in Texas and Rhode Island have unfortunately failed to pass during this session, but we are looking forward to working on these bills in future sessions.
All these bills have a better chance of moving through the legislative process with your help! If you would like to contact your state lawmakers about these bills, please reach out to me at email@example.com. Also please follow @akf_advocacy on Twitter, where we provide real time updates on state activity and other important advocacy information.