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An expensive way to kill people

I presented yesterday at the Health Select Committee on Chris Bishop’s member’s bill to compensate live organ donors.

The current regime, which prohibits private compensation for live organ donors but provides only trivial compensation to donors through the state, effectively spends a lot of money to worsen peoples’ lives and, ultimately, to kill them. Dialysis is far more expensive than transplant; every transplant saves money and saves and improves a life. Every transplant that doesn’t happen, because the state has prevented donors from being compensated adequately, costs a lot of money and kills somebody.

I’m very glad that Chris Bishop is trying to improve things. I think we can do even better, but his bill is a very large step forward. I would support it as it is; I’d be even happier if we could make the changes that were recommended in our submission.

Stuff’s Stacey Kirk reported on the hearings:

The Government is “costing itself a lot of money in order to kill a lot of people” under its organ donor scheme, says a right-wing think tank.

Head of research for the New Zealand Initiative Dr Eric Crampton said told MPs a severe shortage of live organ donors was not surprising.

The Health Select Committee was considering a private members bill under National MP Chris Bishop, which would increase financial support for living donors to 80 per cent of their income.

There were consequences of having a regime, where people were forced to “give up something very valuable to them for zero compensation”.

“As you’d expect you get a pretty strong shortage, when you force the price to be zero.”

Crampton said he supported the bill, but it could be better.

He supported an increase to the level of compensation to 100 per cent of a person’s income.

Research out of Victoria University showed many people were finding the financial burden imposed by the time out of work, to be a “substantial barrier to their donation.”

“It’s one of the stupidest kinds of financial barriers you could ever put up; the Government is effectively costing itself a lot of money in order to kill a lot of people,” he said.

“The Government saves a lot of money with every transplant.”

Oliver’s pointed out to me that some people could read that as a critique of the current government; I’d meant ‘government’ as ‘the state’. The current government made one small step improving things a few years ago, when they moved to provide a small amount of compensation for live donors. Bishop, part of the government, is putting up a Member’s Bill that will strongly improve things. And the committee seemed open to increasing compensation to 100%. I can’t see how that could be read as a critique of the current government on this particular file, as they’ve done more than anybody thus far to fix things, but in case anybody read it as that: unless I say “The National-led Government”, I’m using ‘government’ to mean the state.

About Eric Crampton (88 Articles)
I'm Head of Research with the New Zealand Initiative.

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