Living Donors Now Protected Under FMLA

Thursday, August 30, 2018

In a formal announcement yesterday, the Department of Labor responded to a legislative provision authored by U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler and released a legal opinion stating that individuals who choose to donate an organ are covered under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and will not have to fear losing their job.

Earlier this year, Jaime successfully secured a legislative provision in a U.S. House Appropriations funding bill calling for the Department of Labor to issue formal guidance on whether the FMLA protects living donors. The Department of Labor’s legal opinion clarifies that organ donation indeed qualifies as a “serious medical condition,” since donors require hospital stays and inpatient care.

Physician groups and organ donor advocacy organizations have identified the uncertainty over whether donors will lose their jobs as a potentially major deterrent to organ donations. Jaime has attempted to address this issue legislatively on multiple fronts, including in her bipartisan Living Donor Protection Act.

“On behalf of all kidney patients waiting on a life-saving transplant, we sincerely thank Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler for her unwavering commitment to helping remove barriers to living organ donation,” said Kevin Longino, C.E.O. of the National Kidney Foundation. “She continues to be a steadfast champion for all those in need and we are so grateful for her leadership in ensuring the job security of living donors who are eligible for FMLA.”

“The American Society of Transplantation applauds Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler for her steadfast leadership and support of organ donation,” said Ronald Gill, PhD, Immediate Past President of the American Society of Transplantation. “Most recently, Herrera Beutler’s efforts resulted in an opinion letter confirmation from the U.S. Department of Labor that an organ donation can qualify as an impairment or physical condition that is a serious health condition under FMLA. This is a wonderful development that further strengthens our nation’s organ transplant system and our ability to make the gift of life a reality for the more than 100,000 patients currently awaiting a life-saving donor organ. The American Society of Transplantation commends Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler and the Department of Labor for their support of organ donors, recipients and their families.”

“I’m very pleased that, thanks to this announcement that I helped spur through my efforts in Congress, more individuals will make the life-saving decision to donate an organ,” said Jaime. “Organ donations save lives, save Medicare millions of dollars and cut costs across the health care system, which means it helps meet my goal of delivering better health care to Southwest Washington residents. I’ll use this positive development to continue championing the Living Donor Protection Act that also protects organ donors’ access to insurance, removing yet another hurdle to this life-giving procedure.” In addition to clarifying FMLA protection, Jaime’s bipartisan Living Donor Protection Act also prohibits life, disability, and long term care insurance companies from denying or limiting coverage and from charging higher premiums for living organ donors.

This press release was originally published by Jamie Herrera Beutler.