Veterans transplant bill moves in the House

VICTOR Act Allows VA Transplant Care at Non-VA Hospitals

WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday, October 24th, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a legislative hearing on Congressman Neal Dunn’s (FL-02) legislation to improve veterans’ access to organ transplants. The Veterans Increased Choice for Transplanted Organs and Recovery (VICTOR) Act of 2017 allows veterans who live more than 100 miles from one of the nation’s 14 VA transplant centers to seek care at a federally certified, non-VA facility that covers Medicare patients.

A legislative hearing is the next step in the process before a committee approves legislation and sends it to the full House to consider.

“The VICTOR Act is a commonsense solution to a problem that is quite literally hurting our veterans and preventing them from receiving timely organ transplants,” Dr. Dunn said. “A veteran in Ocala would have to travel more than 600 miles to receive a new liver, despite having seven federally certified transplant centers in Florida. Many veterans are forced to sit on waiting lists for organs they may never receive. This needs to change.”

Currently, the VA only covers transplants performed at a Veterans Affairs Transplant Center, and waiting times for a transplant at the VA centers are on average 32 percent longer than those at non-VA facilities. The nearest VA facility to Florida’s Second District that performs heart, kidney or liver transplants is in Nashville, Tennessee.

In 2016, the Military Times reported on this growing issue stating, “The research found the greater the farther a veteran lives from a VA Transplant center, the lower their chances of being put on the waitlist, receiving a transplant, and it increased the failure rate of the transplant as well leading to increased mortality rates.”

“Government bureaucracy should not hurt our nation’s veterans when they are in desperate need of care,” added Dr. Dunn.

The VICTOR Act is cosponsored by 25 members of the House, several of whom serve on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Dr. Dunn is a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and served 11 years as a surgeon in the U.S. Army.