Important Bill in Congress- The Living Donor Protection Act of 2016

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Published on February 25, 2016

Gives Kidney and Other Organ Donors Time and Flexibility to Recover After Donation by Amending Family and Medical Leave Act

The bill has support from numerous groups that advocate on behalf of organ transplantation, including endorsements by the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, the American Society of Transplantation, the National Kidney Foundation, Transplant Recipients International Organization. and The American Society of Nephrology.

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U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R.-Ill.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), along with Congressmen Michael Burgess M.D. (R-Texas-26) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.-10) today introduced the Living Donor Protection Act of 2016 (S. 2584/H.R. 4616) to protect the rights of living organ donors.

Current law does not specify that living organ donors can take unpaid leave to recover from their donation, and does not guarantee that donors will have a job waiting for them after surgery. According to a 2007 study in the American Journal of Transplantation, as many as 11 percent of living organ donors experience difficulty securing or paying for insurance after their procedures because of discriminatory practices.

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) Clarifies that living organ donors may use FMLA time to recover from the surgeries and procedures involved in their donation; and

3) Directs HHS to update their materials on live organ donation to reflect these new protections and encourage more individuals to consider donating an organ.

Representative Nadler, Representative Burgess, Senator Gillibrand, and Senator Kirk 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 struggling with life-threatening illnesses. An organ donor’s decision to undergo these invasive procedures not only saves lives, it saves money. Organ donation cuts health care costs by as much as two-thirds, saving Medicare millions of dollars every year. Yet, despite taking this heroic step to save a life, living organ donors many times face discrimination when they try to take medical leave or buy insurance. The Living Donor Protection Act, which has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, would fix that injustice. Rather than putting roadblocks in the way of living organ donation, Congress should encourage more individuals to become living donors and protect the rights of those donors to receive the insurance and medical leave they need.”

While the bill covers any living organ donation, in practice kidney transplants will benefit most. As such the kidney care community, including dialysis patients and individuals on kidney donor wait lists stand in strong support.

“More than 1 million patients in Illinois suffer from chronic kidney disease, and kidney donation is critical to saving thousands of lives in the state,” said Senator Kirk. “This bill will cut costs and make it easier for healthy people to donate living organs without fear of losing their jobs or their paychecks.”

The following is a list of organizations support the Living Donor Protection Act:

American Association of Kidney Patients

American Living Organ Donors Fund

American Living Organ Donor Network

American Society of Nephrology

American Society of Transplant Surgeons

American Society of Transplantation

American Transplant Foundation

Bay Area Association of Kidney Patients

Greater New York Hospital Association

John Brockington Foundation

LiveOnNY

The Living Bank

Living Kidney Donors Network

National Kidney Foundation

National Kidney Registry

New England Organ Bank

Renal Support Network

Stop Organ Trafficking Now!

Transplant First Academy

Transplant Recipients International Organization

Transplant Support Organization

Waitlist Zero

“Thousands of people across the country donate kidneys, livers, and other organs to save the lives of family members, friends, and even complete strangers struggling with life-threatening illnesses,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This bipartisan legislation would promote organ donation by ensuring that organ donors receive the insurance and medical leave they need.”

“I enthusiastically applaud Senator Mark Kirk for his leadership and commitment to improving the lives of those individuals donating a life saving donor organ, said Dr. Michael G. Ison M.D., Medical Director at Northwestern University Comprehensive Transplant Center. “Kirk’s introduction of the Living Donor Protection Act is a necessary and thoughtful policy proposal that will have an immediate and positive effect on transplant patients, living donors and their families in Illinois and around the country.”

“It’s unfortunate that even today we still see our nation’s living donors being denied insurance or having their premiums increased because they made a selfless decision to donate an organ to someone in need,” said Kevin Longino, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation. “This bill is an important first step to increase access to transplantation by removing the appalling barriers facing living kidney and liver donors. The National Kidney Foundation urges all members of Congress to support this bi-partisan legislation.”

The Living Donor Protection Act would protect living organ donors and promote organ donation in three easy, low-cost ways:

Prohibits life, disability, and long term care insurance companies from denying or limiting coverage and from charging higher premiums for living organ donors;

Clarifies that living organ donors may use FMLA time to recover from the surgeries and procedures involved in their donation; and

Directs HHS to update their materials on live organ donation to reflect these new protections and encourage more individuals to consider donating an organ.