Congressional Leaders Renew Plea to Department of Health and Human Services to Issue Guidance Preventing Organ Transplant Discrimination Against Persons With Developmental Disabilities

In a letter dated October 12, 2016  to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, 30 members of the U.S. House of Representatives urged the agency to address what they called “persistent” organ transplant discrimination. Recognizing that many transplant centers and surgeons continue to refuse to provide access to transplant registries and transplantation surgery to qualified people with disabilities, the bipartisan appeal urged the Department of Health and Human Services to issue guidance clarifying that life-saving organ transplants should not be denied solely because of a person’s developmental disability. The members of Congress specifically asked that the guidance issued  do the following:

1.  State that organ transplant discrimination violates Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act  and the Rehabilitation Act.

2. Clarify to transplant entities that they must incorporate the patients support network and services into eligibility policies and practices.

3. State that people with disabilities, like any patients in a program or service covered by the ADA or Rehabilitation Act, should be provided with all necessary auxiliary  aids and services they need for a successful organ transplant and postoperative regimen.

The lawmakers noted in their letter that several states including California, Maryland and New Jersey have passed laws prohibiting discrimination in the organ transplant process.

The effort to reach out to the Department of Health and Human Resources was spearhead by U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., who worked with Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash. This effort renews a  similar call  by a coalition of 14 disability advocacy groups in 2012 for the Department to issue such guidelines.

Sources for the article: “Disability No Reason To Deny Organ Transplants, Lawmakers Say” by Michelle Diament, October 24, 2016, Disability Scoop; Congressional letter to Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights, dated October 12, 2016;  “Advocates Call for End To Transplant Discrimination,” by Michelle Diament,September 21, 2012, Disability Scoop.