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Governor’s signature can eliminate organ transplant discrimination

Discrimination takes many forms. An important one is targeted here.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, with one stroke of the pen, is positioned to ensure that people with disabilities can receive organ transplants without fear of discrimination.

A bill passed by the Florida Legislature moved to the first-term Republican’s desk Wednesday, as part of the latest tranche of legislation awaiting DeSantis’ signature.

Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jason Fischer‘s bill (HB 1179,) the version ultimately passed in the Senate, 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.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prevents discrimination against people with disabilities, including for organ transplants. But transplant facilitators don’t know the protections apply to the transplant process.

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

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

Fischer, on the House floor before the chamber passed the bill, asserted 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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