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Bill banning organ transplant discrimination passes Senate

The bill bans denying a transplant solely on the basis of disability.

The Senate unanimously approved on Wednesday a House bill ensuring people with disabilities can receive organ transplants without fear of discrimination.

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 against people with disabilities, including for organ transplants. But Fischer said transplant facilitators don’t know the protections apply to the transplant process.

And Sen. Aaron Bean, who led a similar bill in the Senate up to this point (SB 1556), told the chamber floor on Tuesday that many don’t know they have a recourse if they’re denied a transplant.

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“Florida will no longer tolerate discrimination when it comes to organ transplants,” Bean said.

Fischer, on the House floor before that chamber passed the bill, 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.

“For decades, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been denied access to these life-sustaining treatments,” said Arc of Florida CEO Kirk Hall earlier this year. “This legislation will help address the rampant discriminatory and arbitrary medical decision-making practices that create these barriers.”

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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