August 09, 2019
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) sent a letter this week to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) raising concerns about the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network’s (OPTN) proposed changes to the national kidney and pancreas distribution policies. Blunt and Moran previously pressed HHS on similar changes to the national liver allocation policy, which would negatively impact patients awaiting transplants in Midwestern states, including Missouri and Kansas.
“We are deeply concerned by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network’s (OPTN) steps toward eliminating the use of donation service areas and regional boundaries for the allocation of kidney and pancreas organs for transplantation,” the senators wrote. “We believe the new allocation policies reward historically low-performing, troubled organ procurement organizations without taking steps to improve their performance and help a greater number of Americans in need of a life-saving organ. In fact, President Trump’s recent Executive Order acknowledged that there is a need to reform organ procurement performance. We urge you to put a halt to OPTN’s actions until litigation is resolved and we can move forward, together, with policies that help all Americans.”
Blunt and Moran previously sent two letters to Secretary Azar, in December 2018 and January 2019, challenging the liver policy change, citing the potentially negative impact on costs and wait times. In May of this year, the Northern District Court of Georgia granted an injunction preventing changes in the national liver distribution policy prior to an appellate court ruling on the case.
Blunt and Moran have also asked HHS to delay changes to the liver distribution policy pending additional information they’ve requested from the Comptroller General of the United States. The senators have asked for a full review of both OPTN’s policy-making process and HHS’ oversight of the program.
Read the full text of the letter here.