April 17, 2024

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Feds launch massive investigation into organ donation firms accusing them of only taking money making tissues and leaving badly needed organs behind

3 min read
  • U.S. attorneys from at least five states have a launched a fraud investigation into organ donation organizations 
  • Investigators are looking into whether some groups used donors for body tissue and left badly needed organs behind
  • Another aspect of the investigation includes determining if there have been kickbacks between organizations and overbilling the government 

Federal investigators have launched a multi-agency fraud probe into organ donation organizations, a new report has revealed.

U.S. attorneys from at least five states are investigating if organ procurement groups have been overbilling the government, according to The Washington Post.

The investigators include the Department of Health and Human Services and the office of Michael Missal, the inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sources said the investigators are looking into whether some groups used Veterans Affairs donors for money-making body tissue and leaving badly needed organs behind.

Procuring organs is more expensive and requires more expertise than collecting tissues. 

U.S. attorneys from at least five states have launched a fraud probe into into organ donation organizations. Pictured: healthcare workers transporting organs

U.S. attorneys from at least five states have launched a fraud probe into into organ donation organizations. Pictured: healthcare workers transporting organs

Sources said the investigators are looking into whether some groups used Veterans Affairs donors for money making body tissue and leaving badly needed organs behind. Pictured: A surgeon grabbing a kidney during a donor surgery

Sources said the investigators are looking into whether some groups used Veterans Affairs donors for money making body tissue and leaving badly needed organs behind. Pictured: A surgeon grabbing a kidney during a donor surgery 

Chief executive of the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations, Steve Miller, sent a notice to his membership that investigators from the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General’s Office were sent to the workplaces and homes of 10 chief executives of organ procurement organizations at the beginning of February.

Jenny Daigle, a spokeswoman for the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations, said they are ‘aware the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General has made inquiries of some OPOs.’

Part of the investigation is seeking to determine if any of the groups violated the False Claims Act by billing the government for unallowable costs.

When a group procures an organ, transplant centers pay for some of the costs and the Medicare pays for the rest.

Another aspect of the investigation includes determining if there have been kickbacks between companies and if six specific organizations have fraudulently billed the Department of Veterans Affairs and Medicare.

In September, the Senate Finance Committee sent letters to eight executives of organ donation groups for information on ‘instances in which they potentially abused their positions for monetary gain.’

The letter said organ procurement organizations and their executives ‘have engaged in a complex web of financial relationships with tissue processors, researchers, testing laboratories, and logistics providers, which have the potential for creating conflicts of interest.’

A 2022 investigation from the Senate Finance Committee found 70 people died and 249 developed diseases from 2008 to 2015 after mistakes in the screening process , partly due to the failure in oversight by the United Network for Organ Sharing (headquarters pictured)

A 2022 investigation from the Senate Finance Committee found 70 people died and 249 developed diseases from 2008 to 2015 after mistakes in the screening process , partly due to the failure in oversight by the United Network for Organ Sharing (headquarters pictured)

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, 103,223 people are on the transplant waiting list and 17 people die each day waiting for a transplant.

Last year, the government announced a plan to overhaul the country’s organ transplant system.

The modernization initiative backed by the Health Resources and Services Administration sought to expand the pool of eligible contractors to run the U.S. organ transplant system.

The system had only ever been run by the United Network for Organ Sharing, which has been criticized for long waitlists and deaths of people waiting for transplants.

A 2022 investigation from the Senate Finance Committee found 70 people died and 249 developed diseases from 2008 to 2015 after mistakes in the screening process, partly due to the failure in oversight by the United Network for Organ Sharing. 

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