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AMERICAN LEGION SALUTES CONGRESSIONAL ACTION TO END VA/HHS RURAL HEALTH CARE INITIATIVE

 AMERICAN LEGION SALUTES CONGRESSIONAL ACTION TO END
 VA/HHS RURAL HEALTH CARE INITIATIVE
 WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Activity on Capitol Hill to end a pilot program which would provide VA health care to non-veterans was hailed by the National Commander of The American Legion on the eve of the organization's annual Washington veterans affairs conference.
 Commander Dominic DiFrancesco said that bills sponsored by Sens. Richard Shelby (D-Ala.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and companion legislation sponsored by Rep. Claude Harris (D-Ala.) are the result of a furious effort by members of the nation's largest veterans' organization to stop what DiFrancesco called "a terrible idea."
 The Departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services planned to open two VA hospitals to non-veterans in rural areas. Under the plan, each department would reimburse the other for services provided to their respective clients.
 The American Legion objected to the plan because of what it saw as a marginally effective program that could do little good for non-veterans and could potentially further deny some service connected disabled veterans in their government-provided health care.
 "Since we heard about this proposal last summer, our members have deluged congressional offices, the White House and VA with letters and telephone calls to object to this proposal," DiFrancesco said. "Legionnaires and Auxiliary members have united in their efforts to show the wrong-headedness of this plan. It is especially gratifying to see members of Congress move from proposing a similar plan to opposing the notion outright."
 DiFrancesco said that Legion efforts to overturn the proposal at the administration level will persist. He also pointed out that the Legion had no arguments with helping people in medically poor areas get health care.
 "There are a great many veterans who are not now eligible for VA care who could benefit from it," he said. "Once this unfortunate confrontation with the administration is over, I hope VA, HHS and the White House will encourage a meeting with veterans to get our input."
 The commander said that VA's current network of 172 hospitals and a number of other facilities might be ideal laboratories for a form of national health care. "I cannot imagine why VA has not been included in the working groups to develop a national plan," he said. "For decades, the government has been providing care for veterans on a national level, and that system should be studied."
 During the Legion's Washington meeting, there will be discussions of how the Legion can be more actively involved in the national health care debate.
 -0- 2/6/92
 /CONTACT: Mark Katz, 202-861-2790 or, after hours, 301-530-0174; or John Hanson, 202-861-2752 or, after hours, 703-739-0924, both of The American Legion/ CO: The American Legion ST: District of Columbia IN: HEA SU: LEG


MH -- DC020 -- 7750 02/06/92 12:59 EST
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Date:Feb 6, 1992
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