Thompson Will Focus on Organ Donation, not Distribution
As expected, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson unveiled new national efforts to boost organ and tissue donations yesterday, saying he would stay out of the more "contentious" debate over how to distribute organs and tissue, the Wall Street Journal reports (Lueck, Wall Street Journal, 4/18). Thompson's initiatives include a national donor card program, a national medal to honor donor families, a new curriculum on organ donation for teenage driver-education classes and the Workplace Partnership for Life program, under which 17 businesses and organizations have agreed to educate their employees about organ donation. Thompson said HHS also will determine whether an electronic donor registry "would improve the current system" (Meckler, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/18). As governor, Thompson opposed "[c]ontroversial" regulations proposed by the Clinton administration that would distribute organs first to the "sickest" patients nationawide, regardless of region. Instead, Thompson favored the existing system that distributes organs based on geographic location. Thompson said, "I stuck up for my state ... but that is being governor of the state of Wisconsin. Now I'm secretary and I have to look at the nation as a whole. I don't want to get into a fight over allocation or distribution because it's very contentious." Thompson said that entering the organ donation fray now would cause a "schism" within the transplant community that could make the issue "hard to broach in the future" (Wall Street Journal, 4/18).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.