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Proposed Transplant Regulations Could Destabilize Program, Mississippi Delegation Warns

Washington, September 18, 2020

PROPOSED TRANSPLANT REGULATIONS COULD DESTABILIZE PROGRAM, MISS. DELEGATION WARNS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Members of the Mississippi Congressional Delegation today raised concerns about proposed changes to performance standards for organ procurement, which could destabilize a program that is particularly critical for patients with kidney disease.

U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), along with Representatives Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), Trent Kelly (R-Miss.), and Michael Guest (R-Miss.), sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar asking HHS to reconsider changes to regulations governing Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs).

“We are encouraged by the effects of the President’s Executive Order on Advancing American Kidney Health in improving care for patients with kidney disease. One major aspect of this Executive Order seeks to increase the number of kidneys available for transplant by promoting outcome measures for Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs). This is certainly a laudable goal that could improve the lives of many Mississippians awaiting transplantation. However, we write to raise three specific concerns about the OPO proposal and ask that the Department address these as it works toward a final rule,” the lawmakers wrote.

The delegation members sought changes to three points of contention:
• Destabilizing the U.S. organ donation and transplantation system by setting the OPO performance threshold at the top 25th percentile, a high threshold that would mean up to 75 percent of OPOs could face decertification in any given year.
• Relying on death certificates to identify potential donors, despite such records being consistently inaccurate and inconsistent in documenting secondary conditions that could render an individual medically ineligible for organ donation.
• Proposing the use of two statistically correlated metrics that would only provide one measure by which to judge OPOs, which would not satisfy the statutory requirement for OPOs to be evaluated with multiple metrics.

The delegation sent the letter on behalf of Mississippians who are served by the University Transplant program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. This is the state’s only kidney transplant program. Established in 1962, the UMMC program is one of the strongest in the nation and has one of the shortest wait times in the country for those needing a kidney transplant.

A copy of the letter is available here.

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