The organ donation system is grossly inefficient, failing to recover and transplant as many as 28,000 lifesaving organs every year.
The problem is a system of unaccountable, government monopoly contractors, called organ procurement organizations (OPOs), with a history of underperformance, obstructionism, and fraud, waste and abuse.
As the New York Times editorial board wrote: “an astounding lack of accountability and oversight in the nation’s creaking, monopolistic organ transplant system is allowing hundreds of thousands of potential organ donations to fall through the cracks."
The Administration is moving on the issue but it’s critical not to lose momentum during COVID- 19, especially since COVID-19 puts patients at additional risk via dialysis centers and added risk of organ failure
Areas in the red failing outcome measures proposed by HHS in 2019
July 2019: President Trump signed an Executive Order on Advancing American Kidney Health, highlighting the need for OPO reform
December 2019: HHS proposed new OPO regulations, finding more than half of all OPOs to be out of compliance, estimating that reforms will lead to another 5,000 - 10,000 lifesaving organ transplants per year by 2026. Secretary Azar’s official remarks: “We’re going to stop looking the other way while lives are lost and hold OPOs accountable.”
January 2020: Secretary Azar delivers keynote about the need for OPO reform at the launch of the Day One Project
“Recent reports suggest that OPOs, which are tasked with acquiring and distributing organs for donation, are systemically underperforming, resulting in long wait lists and thousands of deaths each year.”
— Name, Title
BIPARTISAN SUPPORT ON THE HILL INCLUDES
Senators Grassley, Wyden, Young and Cardin to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS)
Rep. Katie Porter to HHS
Rep. Karen Bass, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, in The Hill
Senator Todd Young in The Hill
House Appropriations Committee: “The Committee supports... efforts to establish objective outcome measures for Organ Procurement Organizations (OPO) as well as efforts to decertify underperforming OPOs at the conclusion of the current contract cycles.”
Congressional Research Service: “Under the proposed rule, based on most recent performance data, many OPOs would not meet the measures required to be recertified.”