Supported by Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion
WASHINGTON, DC — Congressman Neal Dunn’s (FL-02) bill to expand organ transplant care for veterans passed the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Friday with bipartisan support.
H.R. 2601, the Veterans Increased Choice for Transplanted Organs and Recovery (VICTOR) Act, allows veterans who need an organ or bone marrow transplant to access care at any federally certified transplant center near their home, not just at the limited number of VA transplant centers around the country. This legislation would apply to both the Choice program and any subsequent community care program that would replace Choice.
The legislation is supported by leading veterans advocacy groups, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion.
“As a surgeon and a veteran, I believe this is good medicine and good public policy,” Dr. Dunn said. “The status quo puts roadblocks in front of veterans who need life-saving transplant care. The VICTOR Act eliminates these roadblocks and increases access to the care our veterans have earned.”
“Arcane rules should not prohibit veterans from receiving lifesaving care such as an organ transplant. I applaud Rep. Dunn for his leadership on this legislation that would enable veterans who aren’t able to access care at a VA transplant center to seek care in the community, and I look forward to continuing to move this important bill through the legislative process,” said House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman, Phil Roe.
Currently, VA organ transplant care is only available at one of only 14 Veterans Affairs Transplant Centers (VATCs) in the entire nation. The nearest VATC to North Florida for liver transplants, for instance, is in Tennessee. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found evidence that distance and difficulty accessing transplant care decreased the chances that a veteran would receive a transplant, and increased the likelihood of death.
The undue burden of travel is not the only issue veterans in need of transplants face. Veterans on organ transplant waiting lists at VA facilities face, on average, a 32 percent longer waiting time to receive a transplant than individuals at non-VA facilities.
“We owe it to our veterans to give them every chance to obtain a transplant, and more years with their loved ones. I commend Chairman Roe for moving this important legislation through committee,” added Dr. Dunn.
The VICTOR Act is cosponsored by 29 members of the House, several of whom serve on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The bill is expected to be considered on the House floor in the near future.