McClellan defends transplant programs

Last week the Los Angeles Times reported that as many as one in five organ transplant programs don't meet federal certification standards. On Tuesday, CMS head Mark McClellan defended the program in a letter to Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), who had demanded an explanation of the Times article's finding. McClellan stated that the federal government increased oversight last fall in response to problems with the University of California Irvine transplant program.

The federal government sent out surveys to all heart, liver and lung transplant centers earlier this year in an attempt to gather more data on the programs and ensure that all accredited transplant centers met federal standards. Of the 202 that have replied thus far, six centers did not meet standard survival rates and 26 did not perform enough transplants to remain certified. McClellan promised to ensure that all transplant centers respond. This is only the most recent round of questions about the U.S.'s transplant program. In 2004, HHS audited the heart transplant program and criticized Medicare's handling of the program.

- read this Los Angeles Times article for more on McClellan's response
- see last week's article on problems with the transplant program

PLUS: A Connecticut hospital is less than pleased with the Los Angeles Times' transplant investigation. A spokesperson for Hartford Hospital said the report didn't include Hartford's most recent data and now private insurers are steering patients away from the hospital. Report