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Blunt Welcomes Court Decision Halting Flawed Liver Allocation Policy Pending Appellate Review

May 15, 2019

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS), today welcomed a decision from the Northern District Court of Georgia granting an injunction that prevents changes in the national liver distribution policy prior to an appellate court ruling on the case. The proposed changes, made by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), could result in a 32 percent drop in liver transplants in Missouri.

“The proposed changes to the liver allocation policy are simply wrong,” said Blunt. “The policy penalizes areas of the country, like ours, that have high donation rates, and ignores the recommendations of the nation’s leading transplant experts. It will lead to higher costs and fewer transplants in our region, all while providing no improvement in patient outcomes. I will continue challenging this unfair action and hope the courts will put a permanent stop to it.”

Earlier this month, Blunt and U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (Kan.) sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar asking him to delay the new liver distribution policy pending additional information they have requested from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

At a Labor/HHS hearing in April, Blunt pressed Secretary Azar about the policy changes.

Blunt previously sent two letters to Secretary Azar, in December 2018 and January 2019, raising concerns over the policy change. In both letters, Blunt noted that OPTN’s decision ignores the recommendations of the Liver and Intestine Transplantation Committee, whose members include some of the nation’s top transplant experts.

Blunt noted in a recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch op-ed that similar changes to the lung transplant allocation policy led to higher costs and an increase in the number of discarded organs because they were no longer viable. 

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