House votes to protect organ transplants for people with disabilities

Organ transplant
HB 1179 heads to the Senate after garnering unanimous House approval.

The House unanimously approved Wednesday protections for people with disabilities who need organ transplants.

Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jason Fischer‘s bill (HB 1179) would prevent health care facilities, insurers and other entities from denying organ transplant services to people with developmental or intellectual disabilities solely on that basis.

“Transplants save lives, but for far too long, people with disabilities have been denied organ transplants because of unfounded assumptions about their quality of life and misconceptions about their ability to comply with post-operative care,” Fischer said.

However, people with disabilities can freely donate organs.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prevents discrimination based on disability, but Fischer said transplant facilitators don’t know the protections apply to the transplant process. Additionally, he asserted that discrimination reporting is low because people don’t know they can file to see why a transplant was denied.

“I think it’s important for us to codify it in Florida law so that it’s clear and unambiguous to hospitals, health care insurers, transplant organizations, that if you have an intellectual or developmental disability that you cannot be discriminated against when it comes to receiving an organ transplant if you need it,” Fischer said.

Fischer has family members he says were affected by disability discrimination.

Representatives gave the measure unanimous approval twice in its two committee stops. Now, it goes to the Senate.

Fellow Jacksonville Republican Sen. Aaron Bean‘s version (SB 1556) is scheduled Thursday for its final committee hearing in Senate Appropriations.

“I am proud to carry this legislation in the Senate,” Bean said in a statement last month. “If someone has been medically approved for an organ transplant and has passed the necessary evaluations, this bill will make it possible for Floridians with disabilities to get on the transplant list.”

Disability rights advocates, including the Arc of Florida, support the legislation.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


One comment

  • Debra Selkirk

    February 27, 2020 at 6:50 pm

    This is great news for many people. I have one question. If alcohol use disorder is a disability, will the new law end the 6-month wait these people face when they suffer from liver failure caused by alcohol? Florida’s transplant centers currently deny them, based on their disease. This is prima facie discrimination.

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