LA Times: Never in the field of public legislation has so much been lost by so many to one law, as Churchill might’ve put it. The National Organ Transplant Act of 1984 created the framework for the organ transplant system in the United States, and nearly 40 years later, the law is responsible for millions
The post Compensating Kidney Donors appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.
LA Times: Never in the field of public legislation has so much been lost by so many to one law, as Churchill might’ve put it. The National Organ Transplant Act of 1984 created the framework for the organ transplant system in the United States, and nearly 40 years later, the law is responsible for millions of needless deaths and trillions of wasted dollars. The Transplant Act requires modification, immediately.
We’ve got skin in this game. We both donated our kidneys to strangers. Ned donated to someone who turned out to be a young mother of two children in 2015, which started a chain that helped an additional two recipients. And Matt donated at Walter Reed in 2021, after which his kidney went to a Seattleite, kicking off a chain that helped seven more recipients, the last of whom was back at Walter Reed.
…The National Organ Transplant Act prohibits compensating kidney donors, which is strange in that in American society, it’s common to pay for plasma, bone marrow, hair, sperm, eggs and even surrogate pregnancies. We already pay to create and sustain life.
…Compensation models have been proposed in the past. A National Institutes of Health study listed some of the possibilities, including direct payment, indirect payment, “in kind” payment (free health insurance, for example) or expanded reimbursements. After much review, we come down strongly in support of indirect payment, specifically, a $100,000 refundable federal tax credit. The tax credit would be uniformly applied over a period of 10 years, in the amount of $10,000 a year for those who qualify and then become donors.
This kind of compensation is certainly not a quick-cash scheme that would incentivize an act of desperation. Nor does it commoditize human body parts. Going forward, kidney donation might become partly opportunistic rather than mostly altruistic, as it is now. But would it be exploitative? Not at all.
Long-time readers will know that I have argued for the greater use of incentives in organ donation both for live donors and cadaveric donors. Pecuniary compensation is one possibility but so are no-give, no-take laws that give those who previously signed their organ donor cards priority should they one day need an organ.