March 16,2021

Bipartisan, Bicameral Members of Congress Urge Biden Administration to Finalize Organ Procurement Reforms

Washington, D.C. – A coalition of congressional leaders from the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform today urged the Biden administration to finalize a rule to reform the organ procurement system in the United States.

The letter, sent to Acting Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Norris Cochran was signed by Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Todd Young, R-Ind.; House Committee on Oversight and Reform (COR) Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., and Ranking Member James Comer, R-Ky.; House COR Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee Chair Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Ranking Member Michael Cloud, R-Texas.; House COR Member Congresswoman Katie Porter, D-Calif., and Congressman Tom Reed, R-N.Y., Co-Chair of the Diabetes Caucus.

“We write in strong support of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services final rule revising performance and outcomes measures, increasing accountability, and improving transparency through changes to the Organ Procurement Organization Conditions for Coverage and to request that it be expeditiously implemented,” the members wrote. “We encourage the Biden-Harris Administration to implement the rule expediently once the agency-wide review is complete. This rule is urgent as it would make long overdue improvements to the organ transplant system that will save lives and improve health equity.” 

The letter comes as the Biden administration has instituted a regulation freeze and agency-wide review of pending rules as a part of the transition process. The members noted since 2015, an average of more than 12,000 people died each year while waiting for a transplant or were removed from the waiting list due to becoming too sick to undergo transplantation.

GAO found that the revisions in the final rule would “increase donation rates and organ transplantation rates by replacing the current outcome measures with new transparent, reliable, and objective outcome measures” and increase competition for control of open organ donation service areas. According to data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), this rule will save more than 7,000 lives every year. These reforms also have urgent implications for health equity, as failures of the current organ donation system disproportionately hurt patients of color.

The members recognize there are areas for further improvement beyond this rule, however, “This Final Rule marks a critical first step toward ensuring accountability across all 57 OPOs in the United States,” the members wrote.

The full letter can be found here.