WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) today cheered congressional passage of H.R. 2544, the House companion to S. 1668, the Securing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Act. The legislation will help break up the monopoly contract used to manage the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). The bill, which passed by unanimous consent, now heads to the president’s desk for signature after passing the House of Representatives earlier this week.
“Last week, I held a hearing in the Senate Finance Health Care Subcommittee that highlighted the devastating failures of the current U.S. transplant system that impact thousands of patients. The message was clear: we urgently need oversight, reform, and transparency,” said Senator Cardin. “Passing the Securing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Act is another step towards improving the OPTN so more patients can access transplants safely and efficiently. As 17 people die each day under the current system, Congress will not accept mismanagement when lives are at stake.”
“This is an important day for thousands of Americans who are in need of life-saving transplants,” said Senator Young. “The Securing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Act includes necessary reforms that will help ensure accountability and transformation in the organ donation and transplant system. This bipartisan bill will save lives, and I look forward to it being swiftly signed into law.”
“Today is a monumental day in the effort to improve the organ donation and transplantation system for Americans and their families who are counting on transplants to save their lives,” Senator Wyden said. “With congressional passage of our legislation, the Biden Administration will have the tools it has asked for to implement a comprehensive modernization of the OPTN contracting process. I look forward to continuing my work to improve this system so more Americans can receive lifesaving transplants.”
“Today’s bill passage is proof that bipartisanship still works in Washington,” Senator Grassley said. “I’ve been grateful to have support from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle since I first began investigating the organ industry in 2005. At long last, Congress has succeeded in untangling years of deadly errors in the organ industry to give patients a better shot at lifesaving care and root out corruption. Americans in need of organ donations, especially rural residents and people of color, will be greatly benefited by these changes.”
“The management of the U.S. organ transplant system needs serious reform,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Breaking up this monopoly will increase competition, save lives and improve the system. Glad to see our legislation pass Congress and look forward to it becoming law.”
The legislation would remove barriers in OPTN contracting and give the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) statutory authority to improve management of the organ transplantation system in the U.S. As the current OPTN contract is set to expire, the new contract procurement process must begin this fall, making the proposed changes urgent and timely for HRSA to make meaningful reforms. Earlier this week, the House passed H.R. 2544 under suspension with a voice vote.
Last year, the Finance Committee revealed consistent mismanagement and underperformance by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the organization that has held the contract since its inception decades ago. In March, HRSA launched an initiative to modernize the OPTN so it better serves patients and families.
Additional co-sponsors include Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).