Congressman Thomas J. Rooney

Representing the 17th District of Florida

Rooney and House Expand Veterans’ Access to Care

Nov 7, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives approved a series of bills that will eliminate unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in order to expedite veterans’ access to lifesaving medical procedures and critical mental health treatments.

“I cosponsored these bills and was happy the House approved them today because they address real problems veterans in my district face too frequently. Government red tape should not prevent a veteran from receiving a life-saving organ transplant, period,” Rooney said. “If a veteran needs an organ transplant or another critical surgery, the VA should be figuring out how it can help as fast as possible, not throwing the rulebook at them. This is a despicable policy and this bill is a big win for common sense and for our nation’s heroes.”

The House approved the Veterans Transplant Coverage Act (H.R. 1133) and the VICTOR Act (H.R. 2601), two bills that will eliminate bureaucratic red tape to expand the VA’s coverage of life-saving organ transplant procedures and increase the number of facilities at which veterans can receive this critical care. These critical bills will allow the VA to pay for an organ donation to a veteran by any live donor and would allow the surgery to occur at facilities that are part of the Veterans Choice Program, including community transplant centers. The VA currently doesn’t provide funding under the Veterans Choice Program to organ donors who aren’t otherwise eligible for VA health care, which strictly limits where veterans can receive organ transplants and from whom.

The House also passed the VETS Act (H.R. 2123) to permit licensed VA health care professionals to practice telemedicine at any location for any veteran, regardless of where they live. There are certain medical and mental health care services that qualified VA professionals can provide to veterans who otherwise have trouble accessing physical VA facilities.

“For the veterans living in Florida’s Heartland, or for those who only live in Florida for part of the year, this bill gives them more flexibility to access health care where and when they need it. Again, this is another example of outdated unnecessary regulations getting in the way of doing what’s best for our nation’s veterans and their families,” Rooney said. “If a veteran would prefer not to travel over an hour to receive mental health care and there’s a qualified VA doctor who can help them remotely, that absolutely should be an option. This bill gives Florida’s veterans control over their own health care decisions, rather than leaving it up to bureaucrats in DC.”