Young concerned about oversight of organ procurement organizations

Allegations of oversight gaps by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) greatly concerns U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) and several colleagues on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

“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” 58 organ procurement organizations (OPOs) monitored by UNOS for the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), wrote Sen. Young and several colleagues in a Feb. 10 letter sent to Brian Shepard, chief executive officer of UNOS.

Joining Sen. Young in signing the letter were U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; Ron Wyden (D-OR), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee; and Ben Cardin (D-MD), who serves on the committee.

The Senate Finance Committee is probing oversight by UNOS following numerous audits by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), as well as news reports that members say have raised questions about monitoring by UNOS, according to their letter, which noted that “20 Americans die each day because an organ transplant remains out of reach.”

Sen. Young and the lawmakers added that the media reports and OIG audits “point to a serious lack of accountability, transparency and objective donor standards that have allowed underperforming” OPOs to continue operating, according to their letter.

The nine-page letter also includes an expansive request for information and data from UNOS, which was contracted by Congress nearly four decades ago to oversee the OPTN.

For example, Sen. Young and his colleagues requested information about the organ procurement and transplant process and various OPOs, including legally required periodic performance reviews of OPOs; audits of OPOs that suggest the government’s Medicare program was billed for unallowable expenditures; and data related to OPOs identified as ‘underperforming’ or not in good standing over the last 10 years, among other information.