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Herrera Beutler, Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Introduce Bicameral Legislation to Protect Organ Donors

The Living Donor Protection Act of 2021 would protect organ donors from high insurance premiums and create programs that encourage organ donation

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Washington, March 1, 2021 | comments

At the start of National Kidney Month, U.S. Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced legislation to protect the rights of living organ donors. The Living Donor Protection Act would protect living donors from high insurance premiums, codify Department of Labor (DOL) guidance that covers living donors under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in the private and civil service, remove barriers to organ donation, and provide certainty to donors and recipients. 

“Lives are lost each day in this country because folks are forced to wait too long for kidney transplants. But there’s hope; if Congress passes the Living Donor Protection Act that I’m helping lead we’ll remove barriers for those waiting in a long line to receive a transplant and save more lives. I’m going to continue championing common-sense, bipartisan solutions that seek to match life-saving organs with the thousands of Americans who desperately need them,” said Herrera Beutler. 

"It’s a tragedy that so many people die while waiting for life-saving organ donations. We must do more to remove the barriers that keep Americans from donating, 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. These protections are critical for individuals who choose to become living donors, and I will keep working with my colleagues across the aisle to finally pass this legislation,” said Gillibrand.

“The Living Donor Protection Act would encourage more organ donors to step forward by protecting them from denial of insurance coverage, higher health-insurance premiums, and job loss. Not only do living organ donors save lives, but these transplants have better patient outcomes and are more cost-effective for the Medicare system,” said Cotton.

“When an organ donor decides to donate one of their organs to someone else, they aren’t just saving someone’s life—they’re making one of the most selfless, difficult decisions anyone could ever make. The last thing they need in the midst of that challenging process is to be confronted by needless roadblocks or insurance discrimination. These roadblocks can make it economically impossible for potential donors to make that choice and, simply put, they are costing lives. That’s why I’m proud to cosponsor the Living Donor Protection Act, which seeks to knock down these needless barriers to lifesaving organ donation,” said Nadler. 

“NKF is grateful for our bipartisan champions in Congress and thankful they have reintroduced the Living Donor Protection Act (LDPA). Transplant is the gold standard of care for kidney patients, and as we work to increase the availability of transplant, we must also support the selfless living donors who give the gift of life. The LDPA will ensure that no living donor faces insurance discrimination based on their organ donation and expands job protections under FMLA for their recovery period. Every kidney patient deserves a chance to find a living donor and LDPA helps make it one step easier,” said Kevin Longino, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation and kidney transplant recipient.

“On behalf of the American Society of Transplantation (AST), representing a majority of the nation’s medical professionals engaged in the field of solid organ transplantation, the Society strongly applauds and endorses the efforts of Representatives Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Nadler (D-NY) and Senators Gillibrand (D-NY) and Cotton (R-AR), upon their recent reintroduction of the Living Donor Protection Act (LDPA). Removing barriers to living organ donation, prohibiting certain discrimination in insurance and codifying protection for living donors under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is critical and key to the health and success of transplant patients, donors and their families. The AST strongly supports and endorses the LDPA legislation as well as the steadfast leadership and support of Representatives Nadler, Herrera Beutler and Senators Gillibrand and Cotton,” said Dr. Richard Formica, M.D., President of the American Society of Transplantation.

"The American Kidney Fund is grateful to Sens. Gillibrand and Cotton, and Reps. Nadler and Herrera-Beutler for introducing such a critically important bill. This bill creates a national baseline of protections for living donors, preventing them from experiencing job loss, lost wages and insurance discrimination when choosing to make their selfless, lifesaving gift. Its passage would be an important way to shorten the transplant waiting list," said LaVarne A. Burton, president and CEO of the American Kidney Fund. 

“ASN commends Representative Nadler, Representative Herrera Beutler, Senator Gillibrand, and Senator Cotton for introducing the Living Donor Protection Act, important legislation which will remove barriers that discourage living donors from providing the life-saving gift of a kidney transplant. ASN is committed to increasing the number of kidneys available for transplant and increasing equity in the US transplant system, the Living Donor Protection Act is a critical first step to achieve these goals,” said Susan Quaggin, MD, FASN, President of the American Society of Nephrology.

“Every day I see first-hand the difference donated kidneys make in the lives of my patients. Yet currently, living donors face too many barriers to provide this gift of life at a time when donating a kidney is more important than ever: 12 Americans die every day while waiting for a kidney transplant. I applaud the sponsors of the Living Donor Protection Act for ensuring the ability of living donors to obtain insurance and retain employment are no longer obstacles to organ donation,” said Roslyn Mannon, MD, FASN, American Society of Nephrology Policy and Advocacy Committee Chair.

“The Living Donor Protection Act makes certain someone is not denied access to life, disability or long-term care insurance coverage solely because of their selfless act to be a living organ donor. America's life insurers have long been committed to providing access to financial security for all Americans, regardless of where or how they work, their life stage, or the economic status of their household. That is why we strongly support this bill and hope it will help more people choose to save a life through organ donation,” said Susan Neely, American Council of Life Insurers President and CEO. 

Organ donation saves thousands of lives every year, but roadblocks remain that too often stop individuals from becoming living donors. According to 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. Others face job loss after taking required time off to recover from their donation surgery.

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 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to update their materials on live organ donation to reflect these new protections and encourage more individuals to consider donating an organ.

The bill has support from numerous groups that advocate on behalf of organ transplantation, including endorsements from the National Kidney Foundation, American Kidney Fund, the American Council of Life Insurers, American Society of Transplantation, American Society of Transplant Surgeons, American Society of Nephrology, Greater New York Hospital Association, LiveOnNY, Alport Syndrome Foundation, American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, American Liver Foundation, American Nephrology Nurses Association, American Society of Nephrology, American Society of Pediatric Nephrology, Dialysis Patient Citizens, IGA Nephropathy Foundation, Improving Renal Outcomes Collaborative, and LifeGift.  

A one pager of the legislation can be found here. 

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