Republican Sen. John Neely Kennedy of Louisiana.

Louisiana Sen. Kennedy, Missouri Sen. Schmitt Challenge Biden HHS To Remove DEI From Organ Transplant Process

Republican Sen. John Neely Kennedy of Louisiana.
Republican Sen. John Neely Kennedy of Louisiana.

U.S. Senators John Kennedy (R-LA) and Eric Schmitt (R-MO) have joined forces to urge the Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reconsider its stance on including Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) considerations in the organ transplant process.

In a letter addressed to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, the lawmakers expressed their deep concerns about the potential implications of incorporating DEI into the organ transplant allocation process.

The senators argue that the inclusion of DEI factors in organ transplant decisions could violate federal laws and ethical principles. They contend that prioritizing diversity over medical need and urgency could lead to unfair and discriminatory practices, ultimately jeopardizing the lives of those in dire need of life-saving transplants.

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They warn that the implementation of DEI-based policies in organ transplantation could result in unintended consequences, such as increased waiting times, higher mortality rates, and a erosion of public trust in the healthcare system. They emphasize the need to uphold the principles of medical necessity, fairness, and equal access to healthcare.

“Under the proposed model, released through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, hospitals are given payments based on an annual score determined by three factors: number of transplants, organ acceptance rates, and post-transplant outcomes. A successful kidney transplant counts as one point. A transplant given to a ‘low-income’ patient, however, counts as 1.2 points,” the senators wrote.

“This ‘health equity adjustment’ creates a perverse incentive to prioritize transplants, not by clinical necessity, but by arbitrary income levels. Allocating organs should adhere to the principle of equal treatment for all patients, ensuring that no individual is prioritized over another based on non-medical criteria. Further, public trust in the transplant system will be eroded if people believe allocation decisions are being made based on socio-political factors rather than medical necessity,” they continued.

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The senators have hinted at the possibility of legal challenges should the Biden administration move forward with the proposed DEI-based organ transplant policies.

They suggest that such policies could face scrutiny from the courts and potentially be deemed unconstitutional or in violation of federal anti-discrimination laws.

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