March 16, 2021

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

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) joined a coalition of congressional leaders from the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform today to urge 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 Senator Young, along with Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.); House Committee on Oversight and Reform (COR) 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.


“Saving lives must be the number one priority for organ procurement organizations, which are responsible for getting donated organs to patients in need. Unfortunately, we have seen that this is not always the case. In November, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized a proposed rule – modeled after my legislation – to ensure that these organizations are held accountable and subject to metrics that are clear and verifiable,” said Senator Young. “However, when the Biden Administration took over, they put a freeze on regulations like this one. That’s why I’m leading a letter to HHS with Chairman Wyden and Senator Grassley to express our strong support for fully implementing the final rule, which could help to save the more than 107,000 Americans who are waiting on an organ transplant, including 1,077 Hoosiers.” 


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 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, as the members wrote, “This Final Rule marks a critical first step toward ensuring accountability across all 57 OPOs in the United States.”


The full letter can be found here.