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State Cuts Transplant Hole

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Washington state has moved to keep group health plan transitions from stranding enrollees who are waiting for organ transplants.

Gov. Christine Gregoire, D, has signed H.B. 1308, a bill sponsored by Washington state Rep. John Driscoll, D-Spokane, that protects organ transplant benefits access for new employees at employers that change health plans.

In some cases, organ transplant candidates who were new group plan members had to face 2 90-day waiting periods before they could qualify for transplant benefits, officials say.

At least two Washington residents faced a second waiting period in 2008 because of an employer decision to change health plans, officials say.

The new state law eliminates the risk that transplant candidates will face two waiting periods by applying the same standards to both pre-existing condition waiting periods and to transplant waiting periods.

If a transplant candidate has less than a 90-day break in health coverage, the amount of time spent waiting for a transplant under the old health plan must carry over to the new health plan, officials say.