Individuals couldn't be denied health or life insurance coverage due to their status as living organ donors, or lose coverage if they choose to donate organs under a proposed law advancing in the New Jersey Legislature.

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Sponsors of the measure say such a law could encourage organ donation among the living.

“With more than 109,000 Americans waiting on a life-saving organ transplant, it’s crucial we find ways to encourage more people to become donors and support those who choose to do so," Assembly Democrats Carol Murphy, Daniel Benson and Valerie Vainieri Huttle said jointly in a press release. "This measure will ensure that donors receive fair treatment and do not have to risk losing their insurance because of their donor status. Living donors should be thanked for sacrificing a part of themselves to save someone else, not unfairly punished for their decision. Providing these protections is a way we can help donors while honoring their selflessness.”  

Under the bill, life, health and long-term insurance providers would not be permitted to discriminate against those who are already living organ donors, or those planning to donate an organ while they're still alive. However, an amendment to the bill permits insurers to continue using one's status as a living donor to determine one's premium rate.

New Jersey already offers tax deductions and paid leave for certain living organ donors. A number of states have adopted pieces of stalled federal legislation that offers protections to living donors.

"My health is at no greater risk with only having one kidney than it was with two kidneys," Jason Nothdurft, a living donor in New Jersey, told the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee in October.

The measure was unanimously approved by the full Senate on Nov. 16 and awaits action by a Senate committee.

According to NJ Sharing Network, nearly 4,000 people in New Jersey are waiting for a live-saving transplant. Every three days, a Garden State resident dies while waiting for a transplant, according to the organization.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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