Senate Republicans seek probe of organ transplant system

Published on December 20, 2019

Members of the Senate Finance Committee Thursday requested an in-depth examination of the nation’s organ recovery and transplant system, raising questions about suspected financial fraud and criticizing the system for its “poor performance.”

The request to the Office of the Inspector General comes one day after the Trump administration announced a sweeping proposal to boost the number of organs collected for transplant by dozens of underperforming organ collection agencies and increasing federal payments to living kidney donors.
In their letter to the Inspector General, Sens. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Todd C. Young (R-Ind.) praised the proposed regulations but pointed out it will be years before they take effect. In the meantime, they said, Americans are dying each day as they wait for organ transplants and more action should be taken now.

More than 114,000 people are on waiting lists for kidneys, livers, hearts and other organs. Thirty-three of them die each day and many wait for years.
Grassley, finance committee chairman, said in a statement that “more can be done right now to improve a system that is mired by inefficiency, waste and a serious lack of accountability.”
Grassley and Young asked the Inspector General to determine if there are adequate safeguards to ensure that federally funded organ procurement organizations (OPOs) are using taxpayer money on their primary mission — recovering organs for transplant.

Some OPOs have transferred millions of dollars to foundations they’ve established, which have paid for such things as jets, parties and parade floats, the groups’ Internal Revenue Service records show. The senators pointed to a 2013 Inspector General report that identified such questionable spending and asked whether any audits have been conducted since then.

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