As the debate over the Affordable Care Act continues, one piece of legislation is offering simple steps to address a growing health concern, the Living Donor Protection Act of 2017. The bill was introduced in the House on March 1 by Representatives Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash.

Kidney transplantation is the gold standard treatment for end-stage renal disease, and increasing its availability can save lives, improve quality of life for ESRD patients, and save Medicare a significant amount of money. The goal of health policy reform should be to increase access to care and reduce costs. This bill would do that, and is free of partisan politics, a quality that is becoming increasingly rare on the Hill.

The Living Donor Protection Act would protect living organ donors and promote organ donation in three 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 Family and Medical Leave Act time to recover from the surgeries and procedures involved in their donation.
  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.

“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.”

Protecting living donors from insurance discrimination is imperative to increasing donation rates. I will be calling my representatives to support this bill. I urge you to do the same.