February 04,2021

Grassley, Wyden Subpoena the United Network for Organ Sharing as part of Continued Investigation into U.S. Organ Transplant System

Washington Senate Finance Committee leaders Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) yesterday issued a subpoena to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), compelling production of documents related to the committee’s investigation of organ procurement organizations (OPOs), and potential false claims submitted to government benefit programs. The Committee determined that issuing a subpoena was necessary in order to receive full and complete production from UNOS.
Senators Grassley and Wyden issued the following joint statement:
“We have serious concerns related to UNOS’ role in overseeing our nation’s OPOs, which have been severely underperforming for decades. Our review has shed light on the improper use of Medicare funds, conflicts of interest and gaps in oversight. UNOS has served as the federal government’s contractor, without competition, since 1986, and is responsible for overseeing the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network established by Congress. UNOS has indicated they will comply with the subpoena and we look forward to continuing our inquiry.”
Senate Finance Committee members began inquiries into organ procurement organizations and UNOS, nearly a year ago. Reports have also detailed various gaps and conflicts in UNOS management of the organ donation system, resulting in a failure to properly ensure an effective system operating on behalf of patients across the country.
In November 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a Final Rule to impose new transparency guidelines on OPOs. Racial equity experts have lauded these OPO reforms, highlighting that OPOs often provide substandard care to patients of color. And given expert projections that COVID-19 may severely increase the demand for kidney transplants in the coming years, it is more important than ever to ensure the OPO system is functioning effectively and in patients’ interests.