ORGAN DISTRIBUTION: NJ Delegation Wants Delay In Changes
In reaction to Congress' vote for a three-month delay on making changes to the nation's organ-sharing system, "members of New Jersey's congressional delegation yesterday called for a year's delay in any rule changes." The Newark Star-Ledger reports that Sen. Robert Torricelli (D) "plans to introduce a bill later this week calling for the delay" in order to allow time to assess the impact of the new regulations on smaller organ transplant centers. Torricelli and other state delegates "have written U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala stressing the "need for 'New Jerseyans and all Americans to have fair access to organs as close to home as possible.'" In its letter, the delegation supports increased organ donations over abolishing regional distribution as "the best way to fix the problem of disparate waiting lists." Former Gov. Jim Florio (D), "who as a congressman sat on the committee that helped establish the current transplant system in the early 1980s," also supports the one-year moratorium.
Assessing The Impact
The new system could affect state facilities like Newark's University Hospital, which could face closure if too many organs end up going to the larger national facilities, which tend to have sicker patients. In addition, "[o]f particular concern is the fact that roughly 30 percent of transplants performed in the state are on patients who have no insurance or who are covered by Medicaid." Torricelli expressed concern that larger, out-of-state programs may turn down these patients (Stewart, 5/5).