By Betsy Klein, CNN
(CNN) — President Joe Biden is set to sign into law a new bill that the White House says will save lives for Americans in need of an organ transplant.
Biden on Friday will sign a bipartisan piece of legislation that will reform the organ transplant system, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, and waiting process as more than 100,000 people await a transplant. The bill passed the House and Senate on a bipartisan basis in July.
“Everybody knows the system has been broken for years with heartbreaking consequences. Now with the president’s signature, we are taking significant steps to improve it,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday.
The law, Jean-Pierre said, “will break up the current monopoly system harnessing competition to allow HHS (the Department of Health and Human Services) to contract with the best entities to provide a more efficient system for the people it serves.”
It also eliminates the funding cap “to allow additional resources to modernize the system,” she said.
The bill, she added, is expected to boost transparency and accountability for those in need of an organ transplant.
The system has only ever been managed by the nonprofit United Network for Organ Sharing, which has drawn criticism for its handling of organs, long waitlists for transplants and the number of deaths among people waiting: about 6,000 per year. More than 100,000 people in the United States are now waiting for an organ transplant.
A report released last year by the Senate Finance Committee found 70 deaths from 2010 to 2020 due to system failures within OPTN, as well as significant opportunities for improvement in how the nation manages organ transplants. “From the top down, the U.S. transplant network is not working, putting Americans’ lives at risk,” the report said.
Part of Biden’s 2024 budget proposal sought increased funding for organ procurement and transplantation – a total of $67 million – and requests that Congress update decades-old rules around appropriations and contracts for organ transplants in order to increase competition.
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CNN’s Nadia Kounang contributed to this report.