ORGAN DISTRIBUTION: HRSA Chief Blasts UNOS Over New Rules
The Wall Street Journal reports that a "top Clinton health official" is criticizing the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) for "grossly mischaracterizing" new organ sharing regulations issued in March. According to Claude Earl Fox, the head of Health Resources and Services Administration, UNOS "is using 'scorched-earth scenarios' to fight" the regulations. UNOS is opposed to the new system of allocating organs to patients with the "greatest medical need, regardless of where they are," instead of the local and regional distribution that is currently in place. UNOS, which is the federal contractor for organ sharing, believes that national reallocation with a single waiting list "would steer organs away from small- and medium-sized centers" and that such a system would allocate organs first upon those with less of a chance to survive.
Time To Talk
The Journal reports that "HHS officials are particularly irked" that UNOS has been lobbying on Capitol Hill to derail the regulations. Fox said that while UNOS' activity is "legal," it is "inappropriate." He said the organization should instead "be trying to reach an agreement with HHS on how to implement" the new regulations. Walter Graham, executive director of UNOS, said he was "taken aback" by Fox's comments. He has requested a meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala "to work things out," but notes that it has not yet been scheduled (McGinley, 5/22).