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NKF Calls for Swift Passage of National Living Donor Protection Act

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05/02/2023
kidney.org

~New Survey Data Shows Widespread Public Support Across Political Spectrum for Bills Encouraging Living Organ Donation~

(April 27, 2023, New York, NY) - The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) today applauded the re-introduction of the Living Donor Protection Act in the 118th United States Congress. The legislation, sponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Troy Balderson (R-OH), Jim Costa (D-CA), John Curtis (R-UT), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Gregory F. Murphy, M.D. (R-NC) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) aims to remove barriers to living donation and provide greater protections for living organ donors.

"There is a critical shortage of deceased organs for transplant in this country,” said Kevin Longino, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation and a transplant recipient. "To fill that gap, Congress must do everything possible to promote living donation. We applaud our Congressional champions for reintroducing the Living Donor Protection Act and for recognizing the critical need to support living organ donors."

“We must do more to remove the barriers that keep Americans from life-saving organ donations," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). "The bipartisan Living Donor Protection Act would help ensure that individuals who are willing to save someone’s life through organ donation can do so without worrying that they’ll face harsh repercussions, like insurance discrimination or job loss. Enshrining these protections for donors will help save lives, and I will keep working with my colleagues across the aisle to finally pass this commonsense legislation."

"Red tape shouldn’t prevent organ donors from giving someone a new chance at life,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR). “This legislation will encourage more donors to volunteer by protecting them from denial of coverage, higher insurance premiums, and job loss.”

“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,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). “These roadblocks can make it economically impossible for potential donors to make that choice and, simply put, they are costing lives. April is National Donate Life Month, and I’m proud to introduce the Living Donor Protection Act to bring awareness to this issue and knock down these needless barriers to lifesaving organ donation."

“A close family friend of mine is a kidney transplant recipient, saved through the blessing of organ donation,” said Rep Troy Balderson (R-OH). “I am proud to be among the 52 percent of Ohioans registered to donate the gift of life. This bipartisan legislation is about offering hope for the more than 100,000 Americans - and their loved ones - awaiting their lifesaving transplant.”

“Donating an organ is a selfless act and Congress should ensure that generous individuals making a living donation are not penalized,” said Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA). “As Co-Chair of the Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Awareness Caucus, I’m proud to support the Living Donor Protection Act to remove barriers to organ donations and help save lives."

“Donating a kidney – and saving a life – is an admirable thing for someone to do,” said Rep. John Curtis (R-UT). “Under no circumstances should an individual be denied insurance coverage because of this surgery, and I am proud to work with folks in Utah, particularly Bruce Tippets in Vernal for his advocacy in the patient community and for bringing this to my attention and fix this oversight.”

“The decision to become a living organ donor is one of the most difficult decisions a person can make," said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO). "We should be doing everything we can to help those who are willing to step up to help someone else in need. This legislation will provide our living organ donors the protections they deserve and ensure no one is ever punished for providing the gift of life to someone else.”

“Donating an organ is a selfless sacrifice, and our legislation will ensure these donors aren’t met with unnecessary burdens which can deter, or even prevent, someone from going through with a procedure,” said Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks. “In implementing these protections, our hope is to make it easier for donors who are eager to help save lives.”

“I am proud to reintroduce the Living Donor Protection Act today with my colleagues,” said Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC). “As a former transplant surgeon, I know the importance of supporting living organ donors who have sacrificed to help their fellow man. This legislation would break down barriers for individuals who want to make the selfless choice to give others another chance at life.”

“Being an organ donor saves lives and Congress should do everything in our power to ensure that those who have chosen selflessly to be a donor are not penalized,” said Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE). “That’s why I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the bipartisan and bicameral Living Donor Protection Act.”

The Living Donor Protection Act would ensure that living organ donors are not unfairly discriminated against when it comes to insurance, employment, or other areas of life. Furthermore, it 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.

Twenty-nine state legislatures from across the country have passed their own versions of the Living Donor Protection Act, most recently in Wyoming. Other states are enacting policies that provide paid leave, tax credits, and other protections to promote living donation. A new survey, conducted by Survey USA on behalf of the NKF, found strong support for these policies among conservatives, liberals and moderates. Among the findings:

  • 63% of respondents support legislation prohibiting life, disability, and long-term care insurance companies from discriminating against living donors. Strong support for this legislation increases with age, from 50% of the youngest respondents to 71% of the oldest.
  • 61% of respondents support giving individuals tax credits to help cover indirect expenses like travel or childcare. This proposal is strongly supported by 67% of parents, compared with 59% of non-parents.

While advocating for a national LDPA, NKF and Voices for Kidney Health advocates across the country are also lobbying state legislatures to embrace and pass bills that would extend additional tax credits to employers and individuals alike and help would-be living donors get the paid time off they need to give the gift of life without hesitation.

The full Survey USA results can be found here.

“What the public is saying is crystal clear,” added Longino. “These measures are supported by all sides. Multiple states have adopted these policies and it is past time to make this the law of the land. Every year we delay more lives are lost to conditions such as chronic kidney disease. I would like to thank our congressional champions for their dedication and leadership on this issue and encourage Congress to take immediate action on the Living Donor Protection Act.”

According to the National Kidney Foundation, there are currently about 90,000 people in the United States waiting for a kidney transplant, and approximately 13 people die each day waiting for a kidney. Living kidney donation is an important option for those waiting for a transplant and can often lead to better outcomes for the recipient.

The NKF has been a strong advocate for living organ donation and has worked closely with lawmakers to ensure that living donors are protected and supported. The organization is committed to raising awareness of the importance of organ donation and helping to increase access to transplantation for those in need.

To learn more about kidney disease and how to maintain optimal kidney health visit www.kidney.org.

About Kidney Disease

In the United States, more than 37 million adults are estimated to have kidney disease, also known as chronic kidney disease (CKD)—and approximately 90 percent don’t know they have it. About 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. are at risk for kidney disease. Risk factors for kidney disease include: diabeteshigh blood pressureheart diseaseobesity, and family history. People of Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian American, or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. Black or African American people are about four times as likely as White people to have kidney failure. Hispanics experience kidney failure at about double the rate of White people.

About the Living Donor Protection Act
The Living Donor Protection Act of 2023 will 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; 
  • 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;
  • 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.

About the National Kidney Foundation
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the largest, most comprehensive, and longstanding patient-centric organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease in the U.S. For more information about NKF, visit www.kidney.org.

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Schedule23 Feb 2024