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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 8, 1996


Today, I have directed Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jesse Brown to send to Congress legislation for an innovative pilot that will expand health care options for our nation's older veterans.

The "Veterans' Medicare Reimbursement Model Project Act of 1996," fulfills a recommendation made by the Vice President's National Performance Review and moves forward an idea proposed during the early days of this Administration. The proposal has the potential of multiple benefits: expanding the choice of health-care for older veterans; bringing new resources, utilization, and operational experience to the VA health-care system; and producing savings for the Medicare Trust Fund by providing health care to Medicare-eligible veterans at a lower cost in the VA system.

This bill would establish a model demonstration project under which the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would be reimbursed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for health care provided to certain Medicare-eligible veterans.

It would open the VA system to Medicare-eligible veterans at a limited number of sites, allowing VA to receive reimbursement from Medicare, and testing whether this is a way of improving health care access and quality for Medicare-eligible veterans while protecting the integrity of the Medicare program. The proposal incorporates a rigorous evaluation of this demonstration program.

This legislation is particularly important given the increasing number of veterans age 65 and older -- by the year 2000, the number of Medicare-eligible veterans will exceed 9.3 million, or 38 percent of the total veteran population. This model project will allow us to learn more about how we can meet the needs of veterans.

The Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services have also been working on developing specifications for a model project to allow Medicare-eligible military retirees to use military treatment facilities with Medicare reimbursement, and plan to have a proposal ready in the near future.