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UNOS to publicly report transplants involving foreigners

Transplants involving recipients who are not U.S. citizens or residents will get closer scrutiny under new rules adopted by the organizations that set American transplantation policy. The move comes after high-profile controversies over wealthy foreigners who received deceased-donor transplants in the U.S. A Los Angeles Times investigation in 2008 uncovered four Japanese gangsters who got liver transplants at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center. Previously, centers where more than 5% of transplants involved foreigners could be audited by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. OPTN is administered by the United Network for Organ Sharing under contract with the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Under the policy adopted by the OPTN/UNOS board of directors in late June, any transplant involving a recipient who is not a U.S. citizen or resident can be reviewed by the OPTN. Transplant centers will have to provide data to the OPTN. That info ...

Plan to compensate bone marrow donors moves forward

After a three-year court battle, a plan to offer scholarships and other compensation to bone marrow donors is moving ahead. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has declined to challenge an appellate ruling permitting the practice. Holder’s office had until June 25 to seek a review by the U.S. Supreme Court. The decision means the end of a long judicial journey and the start of more patients receiving much-needed donations, said Robert McNamara, senior attorney with the Institute for Justice. The civil liberties law firm represented plaintiffs in the case, including nonprofit organization MoreMarrowDonors .org. “This is a tremendously important case, and the fact that the 9th Circuit is the first court to ever interpret this law means the decision has created a new national rule that governs the entire country,” McNamara said. “Even though the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t hear this case, effectively we have a rule that prevents the attorney general from punishing anyone wh ...

Congress wants Medicare auditors to face their own review

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is questioning the role auditing contractors should play in the Medicare program, saying the audits place burdensome requirements on physicians and hospitals. Five senators and six House lawmakers called on the Government Accountability Office to review contracted Medicare auditors, which include Medicare administrative contractors, recovery audit contractors and program safeguard contractors. The GAO should study the coordination of audits and contractor interactions with physicians and hospitals, the lawmakers wrote in a June 26 letter. “Health care providers are responsible for interacting with, and responding to, these contractors,” the letter stated. “In order for this contractor oversight to at once be effective at detecting improper payments and not unnecessarily burdensome to providers, it must be undertaken subject to a coherent strategic plan, consistent standards and active coordination.” The number of auditing initiatives in ...