Senate appropriators want HHS to analyze the controversial new system for liver transplants and report to Congress on what costs patients and transplant programs may face.
According to the legislative text up for a HHS Senate appropriations panel vote on Tuesday, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) would also have to project any potential effect the policy could have on people who are poor or live in remote areas.
The proposed mandates come with a $2 million boost in funding for the national Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), which oversees the distribution of all organs for transplant. The report would be due within 90 days after the language becomes law.
The new, but delayed policy on liver allocation changed the decades-old model that assigned livers based on geographic proximity. Critics of the old system said some extremely sick patients weren't able to get life-saving transplants because of where they lived.
But Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who chairs the health appropriations subcommittee, is one of Congress' most vocal opponents of the new model, which was supposed to take effect in May. After hospitals including in Blunt's home state sued to block the policy, a federal judge ordered the government to delay implementation while litigation proceeds on appeal.
Opponents of the change say that states with a scarcity of livers need to be better at increasing their own supply instead of taking organs from other regions.
Additionally, the Senate is eying a way to open up the federal contract for managing the transplant system. Within 180 days, HRSA would have to notify Congress of any changes that can be made to make sure the OPTN contract "is viable for other contractors to compete."
The contract has belonged to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) since 1986.
The Senate appropriations has gone the opposite way of the House legislation, which expressed support for the revised liver allocation policy.