January 22, 2020
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) released a letter they sent to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) calling for a continuation of the delay in the implementation of changes to the national liver distribution policy until the conclusion of ongoing litigation. Blunt and Moran have led efforts against the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) move to change the liver allocation policy, which would negatively impact patients awaiting transplants in Midwestern states, including Missouri and Kansas.
“As much as 40 percent of the country, perhaps more, will be harmed by this policy that will result in prolonged waitlist periods, increased costs, and system inefficiencies,” the senators wrote. “Given the certainty that this policy is going to trial in the near future, we believe it is in the best interest of patients and the transplant system as a whole to avoid the stop-and-start of the questionable liver redistribution policy until the matter is resolved before the courts.”
Blunt and Moran previously sent two letters to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, in December 2018 and January 2019, raising concerns over the policy change. In both letters, the senators noted that OPTN’s decision ignores the recommendations of the Liver and Intestine Transplantation Committee, whose members include some of the nation’s leading transplant experts. In a Kansas City Star op-ed, the senators further noted that “the practical effect of the new policy will be to redistribute livers from states and regions with high rates of organ donation to areas that have historically underperformed.”
In May 2019, Blunt and Moran 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.
Click here to read the full letter.