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Senators Wicker and Hyde-Smith demand...

Senators Wicker and Hyde-Smith demand Biden administration reverse National Liver Distribution Policy

By: Sarah Ulmer - January 26, 2022

Calling it a “biased, partial and unjust” policy, Miss. Senators join colleagues in criticizing policy that harms transplant patients in the south and midwest

U.S. Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith have joined 14 colleagues in putting pressure on Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to reverse the Biden administration’s national liver distribution policy.

A letter was sent, signed by the 16 colleagues that stresses the disproportionate harm the policy causes patients in the South and midwest. In Mississippi, the the University of Mississippi Medical Center operates a highly-successful transplant program.

“For many years, Members of the Senate have expressed serious concerns about the Department of Health and Human Services’ contractor-driven organ allocation policy,” the Senators wrote.  “In addition to the concerns raised by Members of Congress, more than a dozen transplant hospitals have taken the Department to federal court to overturn the allocation changes for three different organs – lungs, livers, and kidneys.  These actions clearly show that there is not unanimous, or even a majority, agreement on the radical changes underway on organ allocation policy.”

Among other things, the lawmakers contend HHS has ceded necessary oversight of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network run by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

The letter references recently released emails that show a pattern of collusion between UNOS, a New England-area organ procurement organization, and others before the publication of the liver allocation policy changes.  The emails further include profane and disparaging comments about people living in the South, demonstrating a clear bias against these areas in the policymaking process.

“Mr. Secretary, these emails show, without a shadow of a doubt that the liver allocation decision was fundamentally flawed, and the body charged with carrying it out is systematically broken.  In particular, the adoption of the allocation policy for livers has been fraught with inconsistency, a lack of transparency, and clear violations by UNOS in determining the policy.  Yet, in every instance that these concerns have been brought to the Department, they have been disregarded. It is time for the Department to reverse this biased, partial, and unjust allocation policy.”

Below are the Senators that signed the letter: 

U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) led the letter, which was also signed by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Senators Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).

Click here to read the letter.

About the Author(s)
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Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: