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So, Does the Insurer Cover Face Transplants?

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The Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) wants to start regulating face and hand transplants just as it regulates kidneys, hearts and other organs.

That would mean establishing waiting lists, a national system to allocate body parts and donor testing.

HRSA posted a notice of proposed rulemaking for face and hand transplant regulations in the Federal Register in December. HHS calls the transplants that would be affected transplants of “vascularized composite allografts.”

Officials at HRSA, an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), call the regulatory effort a major step toward expanding access to these operations, especially for wounded troops.

More than 1,000 troops have lost an arm or leg in Afghanistan or Iraq.

The government estimates 200 troops might be eligible for face transplants.

At least 18 face transplants have been done since the first one in France in 2005. Over three dozen hand transplants have been performed.

The new rules HRSA has proposed could take effect later this year or early next year.

Comments on the HRSA proposed rule are due Feb. 14.