The Senate is primed to vote on protections for people with disabilities who need organ transplants after giving the measure its preliminary approval Tuesday.
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. Last month, the House passed the measure unanimously.
The Americans with Disabilities Act prevents the discrimination of people with disabilities, including for organ transplants. But Sen. Aaron Bean, who led a similar bill in the Senate up to this point (SB 1556), told the chamber floor that many don’t know they have a recourse if they’re denied a transplant.
“You could say we’re codifying federal law,” the Jacksonville Republican said. “But what happens is people don’t know that they’re being discriminated against in Florida.”
Fischer had asserted that discrimination reporting is low because people don’t know they can file to see why a transplant was denied. The bill outlines a framework in state law for people to seek recourse.
“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 last month.
Fischer said he has family members who were affected by disability discrimination.
Disability rights advocates, including the Arc of Florida, support the legislation.
Delray Beach Democratic Sen. Kevin Rader asked Bean whether insurance companies or others have discriminated against those with intellectual disabilities in the past.
“There have been some cases,” Bean said. “With this bill, it is our hope that there will be no cases going forward.”