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SPECTER INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO PROVIDE MORE HEALTH CARE AND RESEARCH FOR WOMEN VETERANS

 SPECTER INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO PROVIDE
 MORE HEALTH CARE AND RESEARCH FOR WOMEN VETERANS
 WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Declaring that no veterans' issue has a higher priority with him than health care, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) today introduced legislation that would provide more concentrated health care and research for women veterans and greater funding for VA Medical Centers.
 Specter, the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, offered two bills to accomplish these initiatives:
 -- The first, the "Women Veterans' Health Equity Act of 1991," would, in terms of treatment, require the VA to provide "well-women care services," such as pap smears and breast examinations, to women veterans who suffer from a service-connected disability and to those whose income would qualify them for mandatory inpatient treatment; and, in terms of research, it would require the VA to expand its medical research to focus on areas with health consequences for women, including breast cancer and osteoporosis.
 -- The second would amend current law to permit VA Medical Centers to retain a portion of the funds recovered from commercial insurance companies, up to 50 percent, and to use these monies to provide direct patient care.
 Acknowledging that the VA gives veterans world-class treatment and research, Specter nonetheless said that these services are "primarily" directed at men. "That is simply an historical fact," he said.
 For an expansion in VA medical research in areas with health consequences for women, Specter's bill would provide $6 million over three years. Additionally, it would require the VA to keep researchers informed of the status of all VA research dealing with women.
 Another portion of this bill would direct the VA to examine the gender discrepancies regarding the incidence of mental illness among veterans, where a 1990 study showed that almost 15 percent of women hospitalized were diagnosed as suffering from a psychotic illness and where, for the same period, 8.9 percent of men were hospitalized with the same diagnosis.
 To predict and determine the health care needs of women veterans, the bill authorizes $1.5 million for a population study.
 "The information collected," said Specter, "will assist the VA and women veterans by targeting these needs and in working out strategies, both in terms of treatment and research, to deal effectively with this population."
 He said the VA will be required to report annually to the Senate and House Committees on Veterans Affairs from 1992 to 1995 on the status of research on women veterans.
 In arguing the merits of his second proposal that would benefit VA Medical Centers, Specter said it is "no secret that the veterans' health care system is short of money, staff and equipment." He said his bill would provide some relief for the VA from the budget crisis without the need for additional appropriations by giving these centers a strong incentive for trying to collect from commercial health insurers.
 For example, if a VA center collected $10 million in a fiscal year and had $3 million in allocable costs, the facility could keep the full 50 percent, or $5 million. If, however, the center collected $3 million and had $2 million in costs, it could retain only the difference, $1 million, and not 50 percent, $1.5 million. In no instance could a VA center retain more than 50 percent.
 Specter said his bill is a "fair compromise" between the needs of reducing the deficits and still increasing the medical care accounts of the individual VA hospitals.
 /delval/
 -0- 11/22/91
 /CONTACT: Dan McKenna or Susan Lamontagne of Sen. Arlen Specter's office, 202-224-9020/


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Date:Nov 22, 1991
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