WASHINGTON – Bipartisan senior members of the Senate Finance Committee are continuing their years-long push for accountability in the U.S. organ procurement and transplant system. New letters led this week by U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), former Finance Committee chairman, mark a powerful push to crack down on serious potential financial conflicts of interest and abuse of taxpayer money by several organ procurement organization (OPO) executives and current and former board members of the Association of Organ Procurement Organization (AOPO). Grassley was joined by current Finance Committee chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Finance Subcommittee on Health Care chairman Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Finance Committee member Todd Young (R-Ind.).
“It’s appalling to think OPO executives could be using their positions to pull strings for their own financial benefit and charge taxpayers for pricey dinners, luxury gifts and flashy entertainment,” Grassley said of the letters. “That’s morally wrong, and a total contradiction of what should be their core mission: to save patients’ lives. My bipartisan colleagues and I will keep up the drumbeat on oversight to achieve greater accountability in the organ donation system and cut out waste, fraud and abuse.”
The senators asked eight OPO executives about instances in which they potentially abused their positions for monetary gain. The letters to each executive are linked below.
- Letter to Barry Massa, LifeCenter Organ Donor Network in Cincinnati, Ohio
- Letter to Jan Finn, Midwest Transplant Network in Westwood, Kan.
- Letter to Colleen McCarthy, Versiti Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Wis.
- Letter to Jennifer Prinz, Donor Alliance in Denver, Colo.
- Letter to Jeffrey Orlowski, LifeShare Network in Oklahoma City, Okla.
- Letter to Rick Hasz, Gift of Life Donor Program in Philadelphia, Pa.
- Letter to Marty Sellers, Tennessee Donor Services in Nashville, Tenn.
- Letter to Wayne Dunlap, New Mexico Donor Services in Albuquerque, N.M.
The senators also wrote the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) after a recent audit report found that OPOs misspent taxpayer dollars by using Medicare to reimburse inappropriate expenditures. The senators are urging CMS to implement reforms to address glaring problems with the current reimbursement system for organ procurement.
The full text of the letter to CMS is HERE.
Grassley, Wyden, Cardin and Young have worked extensively to improve the U.S. organ donation system, joining forces in 2020 to launch a Finance Committee investigation into the system’s failures. Their oversight efforts notched a major victory earlier this summer when Congress passed their legislation to reform management of the organ system and improve patients’ access to lifesaving organ donations. The bill now awaits the president’s signature.