WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS), questioned Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar about the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network’s (OPTN) flawed changes to the national liver allocation policy.
Earlier this month, Blunt spoke on the Senate floor to
underscore the harmful impact the new policy will have on Midwestern, Southern, and rural areas. No longer will locally donated livers be more likely to stay in Missouri
or other Midwestern states that have high donation rates. Instead, the
transplantation network rewards locations that don’t have the high number of
organ donors that most Midwestern states do. For example, a state like New
York, where 32% of people are organ donors, will benefit from the policy change
while Missouri, where 73% of people are organ donors, will be hurt. In
Missouri, the policy change could result in up to 32% fewer liver transplants. In Missouri, the policy change could result in up to 32% fewer liver transplants.
Blunt has repeatedly pressed HHS to review OPTN’s policy-making process and HHS’ oversight of the program. In January 2020, Blunt urged Azar to delay implementation of the changes, which subsequently went into effect on February 4th. The Blunt-led Labor/HHS appropriations bill, which was signed into law in December 2019, included funding for a new National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study on organ allocation policies, particularly related to livers. Blunt also requested that the Government Accountability Office review the policy. Click HERE for more on Blunt’s efforts.