Geography Matters for Veterans Patients

Dr. Pauline Chen, writing for the New York Times, comments on a recent JAMA study that “not only confirms what critics have long feared but also reveals how even the most self-evident policy choices can have unforeseen and potentially devastating consequences.”

“The researchers combed through the records of the over 50,000 veterans administration patients who were classified as eligible for a liver transplant from 2003 to 2010 and found that almost 1,500 had been placed on the waiting list for transplant at one of the five transplant centers. But the farther those patients lived from a V.A. transplant center, the less likely they were to be on the waiting list. And if they did manage to get on the list, they were less likely to receive a transplant compared with patients who lived closer.”

“Furthermore, the farther they lived from the center, the more likely they were to die waiting for a transplant.”

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  • CJR

    Couldn’t you say the same thing about ANY transplant patient and their distance from ANY transplant center? If you live farther away, the chances of you being able to get to the transplant center and the time it takes to get there makes you a less desirable candidate.


    At one time it made great sense to create a dedicated medical system for those who had served the country in the military. And it still makes sense for those who suffer wounds unique to military service. But with many veterans from the Korean to Vietnam eras reaching retirement to old age, perhaps it would be wise to allow Vets who live far from needed services, or who must wait for extended times, to be able to use, with VA financial support, our now extensive private medical system.

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