OLYMPIA — The 86,000 patients in Washington with kidney disease would have a greater hope of someday receiving a transplant—the only lifesaving treatment—under a bill passed unanimously by the Senate late Friday.
“When organ donors are considering giving the gift of new life to another person, they should not be punished by higher premiums for their health insurance or life insurance,” said Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), the bill’s sponsor.
SB 5003 would make it easier for people to consider donating a kidney or other organ by prohibiting insurance carriers from discriminating against living organ donors. Currently, discrimination in coverage and premiums by health, life, disability, or long-term care insurance companies can present a barrier for potential donors.
Over the past decade, more than 2,900 Washingtonians have been living kidney donors.
In addition to transforming the life of the kidney patient, a transplant is a boon to society. The cost of a transplant is lower than long-term kidney dialysis, and it gives the transplant recipient a greater ability to remain in or return to the workforce.
“This important bill would ensure that Washington state residents who decide to make the lifesaving gift of organ donation will have the assurance of knowing they won’t face discrimination from insurers because of their profoundly generous deed,” said LaVarne Burton, CEO of the American Kidney Fund. “We are grateful to Sen. Keiser for introducing this piece of legislation and hope that the bill will ultimately be signed into law this year.”
SB 5003 will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration. It has until April 11 to be approved by the House to be eligible to become law this year.
The 2021 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on April 25.