Washington – Four members of the Senate Finance Committee have started probing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) after numerous inspector general audits and news reports raised questions about the adequacy of patient safety standards, suggested thousands of available organs are not being used, and highlighted questionable financial practices of some organ procurement organizations (OPOs).
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) have sent an expansive request for information and data to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which was contracted by Congress nearly four decades ago to oversee the OPTN.
“Recent reports of lapses in patient safety, misuse of taxpayer dollars, and tens of thousands of organs going unrecovered or not transplanted lead us to question the adequacy of UNOS’ oversight of these [organ procurement organizations]. According to CMS, 20 Americans die each day because an organ transplant remains out of reach,” the senators wrote.
“Media reports and OIG audits point to a serious lack of accountability, transparency, and objective donor standards that have allowed underperforming [organizations] to continue operating.”
The requests for information about the organ procurement and transplant process and various OPOs include:
· Legally required periodic performance reviews of OPOs;
· Audits of OPOs that suggest the government’s Medicare program was billed for unallowable expenditures;
· Data related to OPOs identified as ‘underperforming’ or not in good standing over the last ten years;
· Data and documentation related to delayed, mishandled or damaged organs over the last ten years;
· Data relating to the number of organs not recovered or not transplanted over the last ten years; and
· Information relating to the financial improprieties or conflicts of interest of OPOs over the last ten years.
Full text of the letter to UNOS Chief Executive Officer Brian Shepard can be found HERE.