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Finance Committee Members Probe U.S. Organ Transplant System

February 12,2020

Washington Four members of the Senate Finance
Committee have started probing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation
Network (OPTN) after numerous inspector general audits and news reports raised
questions about the adequacy of patient safety standards, suggested thousands
of available organs are not being used, and highlighted questionable financial
practices of some organ procurement organizations (OPOs).

Senate
Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member Ron Wyden
(D-Ore.) and Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) have sent an
expansive request for information and data to the United Network for Organ
Sharing (UNOS), which was contracted by Congress nearly four decades ago to
oversee the OPTN.

“Recent
reports of lapses in patient safety, misuse of taxpayer dollars, and tens of
thousands of organs going unrecovered or not transplanted lead us to question
the adequacy of UNOS’ oversight of these [organ procurement organizations].
According to CMS, 20 Americans die each day because an organ transplant remains
out of reach,” the senators wrote.

 

“Media
reports and OIG audits point to a serious lack of accountability, transparency,
and objective donor standards that have allowed underperforming [organizations]
to continue operating.”

The
requests for information about the organ procurement and transplant process and
various OPOs include:

·       
Legally
required periodic performance reviews of OPOs;

·       
Audits
of OPOs that suggest the government’s Medicare program was billed for
unallowable expenditures;

·       
Data
related to OPOs identified as ‘underperforming’ or not in good standing over
the last ten years;

·       
Data
and documentation related to delayed, mishandled or damaged organs over the
last ten years;

·       
Data
relating to the number of organs not recovered or not transplanted over the
last ten years; and

·       
Information
relating to the financial improprieties or conflicts of interest of OPOs over
the last ten years.

Full
text of the letter to UNOS Chief Executive Officer Brian Shepard can be found HERE.

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