Bacon: Ending disability-based discrimination for those seeking organ transplants

Posted by: Victoria Klimczak  | Monday, March 11, 2019 8:35 am

At this point in the 2019 legislative session, the House is considering Senate bills and the Senate is considering House bills. I am particularly excited to sponsor a Senate bill that would ensure all Hoosiers have fair access to organ transplants. Reports show both children and adults with physical or mental disabilities can face additional challenges when applying for organ transplants, and they may be denied approval due to their disability. This legislation would prohibit health care providers from discriminating against potential transplant recipients solely on the basis of disability.

Every transplant-eligible patient is put into a candidate pool by the United Network for Organ Sharing. During this time, patients’ cases and medical history are evaluated and analyzed to find the best fit for a donor match. This waiting period can take anywhere between a few hours or several years, which can be extremely difficult. Under this legislation, those with physical and mental impairments would face one less obstacle during this process.

While it does not happen often, there are cases where eligible patients have been denied an organ transplant or placed lower on the recipient list solely due to their disability or concerns that they are unable to comply with post-operative treatment regimens. With this legislation, we want to ensure patients who are blind, deaf, autistic, or have other intellectual, developmental, or psychiatric disabilities are never discriminated against when seeking a medical transplant.

This legislation would also prohibit health plans from denying individual insurance coverage for the transplant based on disability. Additionally, if patients in need of a transplant are denied because of their disability, they could file civil action pleas against medical facilities.

When it comes to medicine, everyone deserves the best care and resources available. These individuals already face challenges, and it is unfair to deny them a chance for a longer and healthier life. As always, I encourage you to share your thoughts and feedback on this legislation as it moves through the process. Contact me with any input or questions at h75@iga.in.gov or 317-232-9643.

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State Rep. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler) represents House District 75, 
which includes portions of Warrick, Pike and Spencer counties.

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