U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, introduced bipartisan legislation Thursday to protect living organ donors.
The bill, known as Living Donor Protection Act of 2019, is co-sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
The legislation follows a legal opinion issued last year by the Department of Labor stating that living organ donors are covered by the Family Medical Leave Act.
The Living Donor Protection Act would make that guidance law.
“Organ donation is the gift of life. I am proud to work with colleagues in both the House and Senate on this bipartisan legislation to protect living donors and removing existing barriers to donation,” Herrera Beutler said in a press release. “Life-saving organ donations also saves Medicare millions of dollars and cut costs across the health care system, which means it helps meet my goal of delivering better health care to Southwest Washington residents.”
A 2014 study in the American Journal of Transplantation found 27 percent of living organ donors may experience difficulty paying for or obtaining insurance after their procedures. The proposed bill would prevent life, disability and long-term care insurance providers from denying coverage and charging higher premiums to living organ donors.
It also would amend the Family and Medical Leave Act to include living organ donation as a serious health condition and would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to update its materials to reflect the changes and encourage more people to donate organs.
“Removing barriers to living donation is a critical part of expanding access to life-saving transplants for those suffering from end-stage organ disease,” Dixon B. Kaufman, president of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, said in a press release. “The legislation targets two important impediments to organ donation: Employment security and insurance coverage. Advancing this legislation will make a real difference for these individuals and their families.”