U.S. Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV) and Representative Joe Courtney (D- CT) have introduced legislation to prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions in group health plans and in health insurance coverage for groups and individuals. For living organ donors, this is important news, because health insurance plans can and do consider living donation to be an “pre-existing condition” that may impact a donor’s ability to secure health insurance and the cost of premiums.
Called the Pre-Existing Condition Patient Protection Act of 2009, the legislation is being supported by a who’s who list of organ-transplant-related non-profits: The National Kidney Foundation, The American Society of Transplant Surgeons, NATCO – the Organization for Transplant Professionals, and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
To get informed, check out govtrack.us, where you can read the full text of the bill, track its movement through the House and Senate and read the floor speeches made about it. Here are the links directly to the House and Senate versions:
If you wish to write your Congressional representatives, you can look them up at www.senate.gov and writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml, both of which offer convenient email forms as well as mail and fax information.
For those who want to support the legislation, Transplant Alliance offers this sample letter:
The Honorable (add Senator’s full name)
Re: Preexisting Condition Patient Protection Act of 2009
Dear Senator (add Senator’s name)
(I or your organization) request that you support the Act introduced by
Congressman Joe Courtney, and Senator John Rockefeller titled
“Preexisting Condition Patient Protection Act of 2009”. This Act will
prohibit preexisting condition exclusions in group health plans and
health insurance coverage in the group and individual markets, including
live organ donation. It will remove barriers to live organ donation by
eliminating the fear of losing access to affordable private health care
insurance when becoming a live organ donor.
There are currently over 109,000 people on the nation’s waiting lists
for donor organs and over 6,000 Americans die each year waiting for a
donated organ. We must to do what we can to increase live organ
donation. Pre-existing condition exclusions dramatically increase the
cost of health insurance for these altruistic live donors, or have the
impact of rendering the person uninsurable altogether. The fear of
losing access to affordable health care insurance can be a major barrier
to potential live organ donors when contemplating this gift of life.
Live organ donors are a very low health care risk. It is time that the
federal government prohibits private health insurers and self-insured
health plans from treating live organ donors as having a pre-existing
condition. Removing live organ donation as a pre-existing condition is
a necessary component of health care reform.
(you or your organizations name here) appreciate(s) your consideration
of this request to support this Act that will prohibit live organ
donation from being considered a preexisting conditions. Thank you.