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Engel Commends Implementation of New Liver Allocation Policy

Engel Commends Implementation of New Liver Allocation Policy

Engel championed reforms to improve the nation’s liver allocation policy

Congressman Eliot L. Engel today commended a federal court’s ruling to allow implementation of a new liver allocation policy which will help save lives in New York and communities across the nation. Engel was an outspoken advocate for the system reform, which is based on sound scientific consensus. On March 6, 2019, he led a bipartisan group of 81 House Members on a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar urging implementation of the Acuity Circles Model developed by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN).

“This ruling is a major public health win for Americans in New York and across the country,” said Engel. “Up to this point, liver allocation has been limited by arbitrary geographic boundaries. The new policy will ensure livers are distributed based on medical need. No longer will a zip code limit a patient’s ability to receive lifesaving care.”

“The court’s decision is very good news for patients waiting for a liver transplant in New York and across the country,” said Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) president Kenneth E. Raske. “We are now closer than ever to implementing a more equitable, legally compliant liver allocation system that prioritizes medical need over geography. New York’s hospital community thanks Congressman Engel for his strong, longtime support for a better, more fair liver allocation system.”

Prior to this new policy, liver allocation was driven by arbitrary geographic areas. Consequently, some areas had relatively easy access to livers while others struggled to meet the health needs of their community. In December 2018, OPTN adopted the “Acuity Circles Model,” which prioritizes patient need. This policy is expected to substantially reduce the average sickness of patients at the time of transplant, reduce health care costs, and potentially save up to 114 lives annually. The new policy, however, was delayed by litigation. On January 17, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled that the policy may move forward.