House OKs Edwards bill protecting organ donors from losing life insurance, disability insurance income


STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives today passed legislation introduced by Majority Floor Manager John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton) that would protect organ donors from unfair discrimination as it pertains to insurance and disability income.

The bill (2023-H 5489) would prohibit insurers from denying life, disability insurance and long-term care disability insurance solely on the basis of the individual’s status as a living donor.

“There are few acts more noble than donating an organ,” said Representative Edwards. “To be penalized for such an altruistic act is not only unconscionable, it is absurd. Decisions on insurance coverage should be made based on sound actuarial practices, not a unilateral decision to discriminate against those who are giving the gift of life. This bill will protect more than just organ donors. It will ultimately protect those who receive those organs as well by encouraging more people to donate.”

Representative Edwards is a longtime proponent of organ and blood donation. A blood platelet donor for decades, he is one of a handful of Rhode Islanders to reach the 100-gallon mark.

The American Kidney Fund, which works on behalf of the 37 million Americans living with kidney disease, testified in strong support of the legislation, saying, “Unfortunately, studies have shown that people who donate organs experience discrimination by insurance companies solely based on their status as an organ donor. For example, a study demonstrated that a high proportion of kidney donors had difficulty changing or initiating insurance, particularly life insurance. The study concluded that ‘these practices by insurers create unnecessary burdens and stress for those choosing to donate and could negatively impact the likelihood of live kidney donation among those considering donation.’”

The measure now moves to the Senate for consideration.