Massachusetts Senate Passes Bill to Prevent Discrimination in Access to Organ Transplantation with Support from Senator Jason Lewis

The Massachusetts Senate recently passed H. 4332, An Act providing for nondiscrimination in access to organ transplantation, legislation for which Senator Jason Lewis was a co-sponsor.  This important bill seeks to address the discriminatory practice that has been found within organ procurement organizations to place disabled persons lower on organ transplant lists than those without disabilities.

Through analyzing whom the best candidates would be to receive these life-saving transplants, these organizations have historically placed those with disabilities lower on the list due to the assumption of a lower quality of life, even if those with disabilities have the same possibility of continuing life.  This bill will put safeguards in place to ensure disabled residents of Massachusetts that they are being treated equally.

“The fundamental rights and equality of all people, including people with disabilities, should be respected in all matters, most of all in life-or-death matters of emergency health care,” said Senator Jason Lewis.  “I am very pleased that we were able to advance this important legislation to combat discrimination in this vital area of health care.”

This bill will also amend the Anatomical Gift Act by defining a “qualified individual” among other terms, in order to provide clear guidelines that prohibit deeming an individual ineligible solely based on their disabled status.  This will conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

In May, H. 4332 passed favorably through the Joint Committee on Public Health, on which Senator Lewis serves as Senate Chair.  The bill, which also passed the Massachusetts House of Representatives in late November at the same time that it passed the Senate, now goes to the Governor’s desk.