House to Debate State Funding Bill for Organ Sharing
"[T]entatively stepping back into" the organ transplant debate, the House today will likely consider legislation (HR 624) that would provide funding for states to "help facilitate organ donations" and establish a grant program to pay transportation and living costs for low- and moderate-income "living organ donors," CongressDaily/AM reports. The House Energy and Commerce Committee last week approved the legislation, which would provide states with $20 million during the program's first year. The bill includes the "uncontroversial" provisions of a measure that the House passed two years ago which would have "rolled back controversial rules" issued by HHS requiring broader organ sharing by states (CongressDaily/AM, 3/7). Under the current system -- which has remained in effect despite the HHS rule -- patients waiting for transplants in the same area as donors receive organs first, regardless of whether sicker patients in nearby communities need organs. If no local matches exist, officials send the organs first to specified regions, and then nationwide. CongressDaily/AM also reports that Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) plans to introduce a bill that includes a provision establishing a "national organ- and tissue-donor registry clearinghouse," which would develop and maintain state-based computer registries to help facilitate organ sharing (CongressDaily/AM, 3/7).