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Medicare Rules Make Offsite Organ Recovery Costly

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 26, 2014

Firmly Not Participating
Further complicating the issue is that Medicare's rules on cost recovery were written decades ago, before organ donation became so common and before the concept of offsite recovery centers was conceived. The prohibition against recovering costs for donor organs is not specified, but is the way one Medicare Part A administrative contractor has interpreted it. All the other contractors are said to be in agreement, several transplant experts say.

Other transplant center hospitals around the country are firm in their resolve not to participate until Medicare settles the question, which the OPOs hope the agency will do soon. A meeting at the Baltimore Medicare offices is scheduled for April and an entire session will be devoted to the topic, Doyle says. OPO officials say they have hired a lobbyist to push the case.

Ridolfi says transplant centers have put pressure on Barnes Jewish to join in their resistance, given how much money they could be getting from federal funds.

"I certainly have been challenged when I'm out nationally talking about this," he says. "And everyone wants to know why we [at Barnes Jewish] have taken this position. But for our situation, we think that it is [best], and we're fortunate that we're two blocks from our OPO, which makes it easier for our physicians."


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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