HHS estimates that, under the new final rule, organ procurement organizations could collect an additional 5,600 organs for transplant each year, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from California, Maryland, and New Jersey.
- California: Kaiser Permanente and Scripps Health have signed a five-year agreement extending their 40-year cardiovascular partnership. Scripps under the agreement will continue to serve as the sole provider of cardiac surgery and interventional cardiology at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, which provides care to nearly 630,000 Kaiser members in San Diego County. Jane Finley, SVP and area manager for Kaiser Permanente San Diego, said, "Through this new agreement, we look forward to even greater opportunities to provide innovative, leading edge cardiovascular health care" (Masson, Becker's Hospital Review, 11/12).
- Connecticut/New Jersey: Purdue Pharma on Tuesday pleaded guilty to three criminal charges related to its marketing and distribution of the prescription opioid OxyContin. During a virtual hearing held Tuesday with U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in New Jersey, Steve Miller, chair of Purdue's board, admitted that Purdue had hindered the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's efforts to combat the opioid epidemic; paid doctors illegal kickbacks through a speaker program to induce them to write more prescriptions for Purdue's opioids; and paid an EHR company to install a prompt in its software that was intended to encourage physicians to refer, recommend, and order Purdue's opioids. The guilty plea comes after Judge Robert Drain of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains on Nov. 17 approved an $8.34 settlement between Purdue and the Department of Justice (DOJ) that required the company to plead guilty to three felonies over its marketing and distribution of OxyContin. Judge Drain also allowed members of the Sackler family, who owns Purdue, to make a $225 million payment to DOJ to resolve related civil charges. The guilty plea and settlement do not resolve separate cases brought against Purdue by some state and local governments (DOJ release, 11/24; Mulvihill, Associated Press, 11/24; Randazzo, Wall Street Journal, 11/24; Randles, Wall Street Journal, 11/17).
- Maryland: CMS on Nov. 20 finalized a rule aimed at increasing the supply of organs available for transplant in the United States by changing how the agency evaluates the performance of organ procurement organizations (OPOs). The final rule reforms Medicare's Conditions for Coverage for OPOs, which make up a network of 58 nonprofits chartered by the federal government to collect human organs from decreased donors and deliver them to transplant centers. Under the final rule, CMS will replace the three quality measures the agency currently uses to evaluate OPOs, which are based on OPO-reported data, with two new measures—donation rate and organ transplantation rate—that are based on data from the Health Resources and Services Administration and CDC. In a release, CMS said the two new performance measures are designed to "encourage OPOs to pursue all potential donors," including those who only have one organ to donate, and "creat[e] an incentive for OPOs to procure and match all viable organs with recipients." Under the final rule, CMS is scheduled to begin implementing the new measures in 2022. HHS estimates that OPOs under the final rule could collect about 5,600 more organs for transplant each year (Kindy/Bernstein, Washington Post, 11/21; Stein, Inside Health Policy, 11/20 [subscription required]; Modern Healthcare, 11/20; CMS release, 11/20).