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Biden Admin Proposes Rule to Boost Kidney Transplants for Black Patients

The Biden administration’s Department of Health and Human Services is working on a new rule to help people with end-stage renal disease get better access to kidney transplants. The goal is to reduce the differences in the rate of transplants for Black patients. The Secretary of HHS, Xavier Becerra, supports this rule, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will put it into action.

Mr. Becerra stated that there are racial inequities in the organ transplant system, and the administration wants to take steps to remove biases and unfairness. He mentioned that Black Americans are more likely to have life-threatening kidney disease but receive fewer kidney transplants. 

 

In 2021, the national waitlist for kidney transplants showed that 32% of patients were Black, but only 13.5% of those who received a transplant from a living donor were Black. White patients made up 35.8% of the waitlist and 61.8% of living donor transplant recipients. The proposed HHS rule comes after many Black kidney transplant candidates were moved up on the waitlist because an old medical test may have miscalculated their need for a transplant.

Some people who disagree with the rule claim that it unfairly blames doctors for not providing enough transplant opportunities to Black patients. Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, who leads an organization focused on keeping identity politics out of healthcare, mentioned that there are other reasons for the lower percentage of kidney transplants for Black patients. He said that the Black community has a low rate of organ donation, which contributes to the problem.

However, Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, wrote a letter to Mr. Becerra stating that a federal study found healthcare providers were less likely to perceive Black families that wanted to donate, and organ procurement organizations were more likely to not have spoken to Black families. He called for a more fair system of organ donation and transplantation.

The Department of Health and Human Services plans to implement the Increasing Organ Transplant Access Model, which will be mandatory for certain transplant hospitals. This model is part of efforts to improve equal access to organ transplants and increase the availability of donated organs. The agency is seeking public comments on the proposal.

Written by Staff Reports

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