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Spokane worker sparks change in organ-transplant law…

From the printed paper:

OLYMPIA – Fred Watley’s need for a liver is changing state law.

A year ago, the Spokane man nearly died while waiting for an insurance-law loophole to expire so he could get the liver transplant he desperately needed. His insurer finally relented.

On Thursday, Watley – with a new liver – urged state lawmakers to close the loophole so that people no longer have to risk their lives waiting.

The near-tragedy prompted newly elected state Rep. John Driscoll, D-Spokane, to sponsor House Bill 1308, which would reduce the wait in such cases.

“I wasn’t planning to make history. I just wanted to save his life for our 11-year-old son,” said Watley’s wife, LiAnne.

The change is backed by Watley’s health insurer, Group Health, and other major health insurers in the state.

“It’s a loophole that needed to be cleared,” said state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who said he was stunned to learn that when employers switch health plans it restarts the waiting period of at least six months allowed for organ transplants.