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FEDERAL IMMUNOSUPPRESSIVE DRUG DISTRIBUTION DIRECTLY TO TRANSPLANT CENTERS

Executive Summary

FEDERAL IMMUNOSUPPRESSIVE DRUG DISTRIBUTION DIRECTLY TO TRANSPLANT CENTERS would be required under a bill introduced June 26 by Rep. Walgren (D-Pa.). The legislation (HR 5146) authorizes the distribution program, without the use of block grants to states, through a joint effort by the Health Care Financing Administration and the Public Health Service with Medicare funds. HR 5146 authorizes transfer of $15 mil. in fiscal year 1987 and $20 mil. in fiscal year 1988 from Medicare to a Public Health Service program to purchase and distribute the drugs to organ transplantation centers. Walgren's bill is similar to Sen. Gore's (D-Tenn.) legislation for purchasing immunosuppressive drugs, S 2540. Both measures would implement the recommendations of the National Task Force on Organ Transplantation. However, a different bill, S 2536 passed the Senate Labor and Human Resources Cmte. on June 25 ("The Pink Sheet" June 23, T&G-3). Proposed by Sens. Hatch (R-Utah) and Kennedy (D-Mass.), it would provide federal block grants to states, which in turn would determine how the funds are to be administered. By contrast, Walgren's bill would require the U.S. Comptroller General to assure that only needy patients actually receive federally financed drugs. Patients without private health insurance, who are not eligible for Medicaid and cannot personally afford the drugs would be eligible for assistance under the proposed legislation. Walgren and Gore both contend that their measures are more cost-effective than the Hatch-Kennedy block grant financing plan. Gore has said bulk purchase of the drugs would reduce their costs. Walgren's bill, co-sponsored by House Commerce/Health Subcmte. Chairman Waxman (D-Calif.), was referred to the House Ways & Means and the Energy & Commerce Committees.

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