ORGAN ALLOCATION: New Bill Would Maintain Status Quo
In the "strongest challenge yet" to the Clinton administration's efforts to nationalize organ distribution, a bill working its way through the House Commerce Committee would give "the nation's transplant network virtually everything it has sought." The legislation, by Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), chair of the Commerce subcommittee on health, would give the United Network for Organ Sharing, which administers the distribution of organs, near total control over allocation policy. In addition, it would "allow the network to keep its budget secret and make it virtually impossible for HHS to contract with a different group to run the network." The AP/Chicago Tribune reports he hopes to introduce the bill next month and shepherd it through the committee during the summer. Bilirakis aide Todd Tuten said the measure is "based on the views of transplant surgeons and hospitals, and that it stems from continued frustration over HHS regulation." He said, "There is a concern about government bureaucrats making life and death allocation decisions." While network officials would not comment on the legislation, an HHS official called it "an entire wish list" for UNOS. The legislation comes as administration and UNOS representatives "resume closed-door talks in search of a compromise." One HHS official said "[u]nlike talks last summer, these are more constructive as officials look for areas of potential agreement" (Meckler, 5/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.