Last month, President Trump signed Congressman John Carter’s (TX-31) legislation, the Veterans Transplant Coverage Act into law, as part of the VA Mission Act. The Mission Act, in its entirety, paves the way for a major overhaul of the Department of Veterans Affairs and expanded access for veterans to VA-funded care in the private sector.
Section 153, authored by Congressman Carter, specifically requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide organ transplants to veterans from a live donor, regardless of the donor’s military status.
Always responsive to constituent needs, Congressman Carter heard about Leander resident Charles Nelson and his wife raising money themselves because the VA would not pay for their son—a match—to donate a kidney to him. The Congressman immediately introduced the Veterans Transplant Coverage Act, which passed the House in November 2017.
The Department of Veterans Affairs had denied coverage for the surgery because Coty was not a veteran. The Nelson family was forced to fund raise and use Medicare coverage to complete Charles’ operation.
Carter’s legislation was included in the VA Mission Act for final passage and now ensures no other veteran will have to experience what the Nelson family endured.
“This legislation is for Charles Nelson and his family, the 84,000 veterans in Texas’ 31st Congressional District, and the 22 million nationwide. Our veterans deserve to receive the health care they need without wading through bureaucratic red tape.”
The government will now be required to pay costs for the procedure (including perioperative care) and the donor patient may use the closest non-military facility for the procedure.
Prior to Congressman Carter’s legislation, the Department of Veterans Affairs excluded live donations by non-veterans from coverage under the VA Choice Program; forcing veterans to lose a potential match or pay for the donor operation out of pocket. It also forced veterans to receive their transplants at specific VA treatment facilities.
Right now, fewer than one in ten Americans are veterans, which greatly reduces the pool of options.
“I’m proud to fight on behalf of warriors like Charles Nelson! The role of the VA is to care for and serve our Veterans, not make things more difficult,” Rep. Carter said. “The VA Choice Program almost entirely excluded family members from providing life-saving organ donations for their loved ones, forcing Veterans to solely depend on non-living donations. This is not common sense, and our Veterans deserve better.” Congressman Carter continued.
Today, there are more than 35,000 veterans who could potentially need a new kidney in their lifetime, with 8,000 of those Veterans in Texas alone. This bill ensures the Veteran and the donor receive the most expedited care available.
Visit Carter.House.gov for more.