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The Hoover Commission report, when it was presented to the Congress several years ago, recommended that the hospital services of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Public Health, and Veterans' Administration be consolidated into one organization. Will you state the position of the American Legion on that?
Mr. Gough. Yes. We have a position that all services and benefits to veterans should be in the hands of and administered by a single Federal agency to avoid the necessity of duplication of effort and records that would be required if there was, in our terms and in our thinking, a dismemberment of the Veterans Administration to place the separate functions of the Veterans' Administration in separate agencies.
Mr. Mack. The position of the American Legion is that you want a one-stop agency to serve the needs of the veterans of the Nation?
Mr. Gough. Yes, sir; that is correct. The CHAIRMAN. You have fought for that since the very beginning of your existence as an organization.
Mr. Gough. We have a long record and history of fighting for that very principle; yes.
Mr. Mack. Mr. Commander, the fact that the American Legion is opposed to that particular recommendation in the Hoover Commission report does not mean you are opposed to the entire report concerning all of the other recommendations?
Mr. Gough. No; and we have stated that position publicly. There are many things in the Hoover Commission report that we feel are really and truly in the interest of efficiency and economy. We do feel almost sensitive, you might say, over the fact that we offered them the services of our experts who have had great experience in the field of rehabilitation, and it was not used. I think I can say that our men have had great experience, without fear of contradiction, greater than any other group of individuals. We offered to give the benefit of this experience and our thinking to the Hoover Commission. Although the office of the Hoover Commission in Washington was in the 1600 block of K street, the same as our headquarters here, we were never even given the opportunity of presenting our thinking or the result of our experience at all,
We feel that there are certain phases of the Hoover Commission report which are not directed eithor toward efficiency or economy. We have asked them to give us where economy would actually result, and we have never received it from them.
Mr. Mack. I agree completely with your statement. The reason I wanted to get it on the record is that in some of the local posts in my State they have had the impression that the national organization of the American Legion was opposed entirely to the recommendations of the Hoover Commission report. I know that is not true, and I am glad to hear you say it.
Mr. Gough. Congressman Mack, I am glad we have that on the record. It has been on the record before, but we will reiterate and emphasize that this morning because we are very much for efficiency and economy in government. We think the Hoover Commission has done a splendid service in leading in this direction in general. It is only on these particular phases where we do not feel it would result in efficiency and economy that we take issue.
Mr. Mack. I agree with that, also.
Mr. ADAIR. You have indicated that your organization, and speaking for it, prefers the reorganization plan of the Administrator. By that I assume you mean the one announced in November of last year.
Mr. Gough. Yes, sir. Mr. ADAIR. Are we then to assume that you prefer that to the Booz, Allen & Hamilton report, and the implications of that report; or do you regard them as one and the same ?
Mr. Gough. That is a very fine question, and I am glad we have that for the record, too, Congressman Adair, because they are two separate things entirely, and must be studied separately. We are continuing studies of both.
The Booz, Allen & Hamilton report is so voluminous that it is difficult to comment on it in a general way. I will say this: We feel that the recommendations of the Administrator carry much that is positive, and that we have championed, and I am restricting our recommendations to his reorganization plan particularly as it calls for an autonomous administration of the Department of Medicine and Surgery, with such services under this Department; and it calls for the 71 regional offices in the field, to carry the service out in the field where it should be, with death claims under this type of service. Those are things we have championed ever since we have been an organization. Those are the things that we are supporting.
I am awfully happy to be able to clarify that. The press frequently confuses the two. They are two separate things.
Mr. ADAIR. Then am I correct in understanding your position to be that they are two separate aspects of one question, and you feel that the Administrator's plan as announced last November is the means by which the program should be put into operation, but many of the recommendations of the Booz, Allen & Hamilton report should be borne in mind? Is that a correct statement?
Mr. Gough. You have correctly stated my position. As a matter of fact, going even further, many of the recommendations of the Booz, Allen & Hamilton Report are incorporated in the recommended plan of the Administrator.
Mr. ADAIR. You have anticipated my next question, which was going to be along that line. It was a question as to whether you did not find a considerable amount of duplication in the two reports.
Mr. Gough. Yes.
Mr. ADAIR. I have a second general question, if I may, Madam Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Please do.
Mr. ADAIR. You have spoken about this hospitalization board or hospital board. I am not clear as to the exact name.
Mr. Gough. Federal Board of Hospitalization.
Mr. ADAIR. I am not clear in my own mind as to how you proposed that should be constituted.
Mr. Gough. I would like to refer that question to Mr. Kraabel, who heads our division, because he has given considerable study to that very phase of it, and can give a more specific answer.
Mr. KRAABEL. Madam Chairman and Mr. Congressman, the principle of the Federal Board of Hospitalization was one brought out in an Executive order of some years ago, when the construction of hospitals for the Federal Government of many branches was a gigantic program, and coordination was required to bring out the most effective placement of these hospitals and also to avoid duplication. However, that was an executive agency at that time. On June 30, 1948, it was abandoned and the functions of that Board were inherited or reposed in the Bureau of the Budget.
We commented in our annual report of that year that we might see the after effects of removing this one step, where interested parties might go on behalf of certain hospitals of the Federal Government, and in our case in behalf of hospitals for veterans. With that removal, that step or that place was no longer in existence. We soon found that with the coordination in the Bureau of the Budget it became an executive thing, and no hearings were held at which we might appear.
We believe in the findings of our own field service, our own Department service officers, and the task force of the Hoover Commission, that there was a duplication in some areas of Federal hospitals. Our purpose in this bill is to have a Federal board which will survey all of the situation. They will not run the hospitals, but where there is an Army hospital proposed and a Navy hospital nearby, they would say: "Hold on. How is this?” so as to eliminate duplication.
We had that worked out in two or three instances during World War II. There was a case at Hines, Ill., where the Army needed a hospital, the Vaughan Hospital. It was built at the corner of the reservation on which the Veterans' Administration Hospital was located, with the understanding that when the war was over and the Army no longer needed it the Veterans' Administration might inherit it.
The same was done at Richmond.
Another instance was the Navy hospital at Houston, where the Veterans' Administration had planned to build a hospital, and here was a brand new Navy hospital. That was brought to the attention of the people interested, with the result that the Veterans’ Administration inherited the Navy hospital and did not build one.
Our purpose in reviving this as an agency for Congress is to see that the building of any Federal hospitals, or the location of them, would be coordinated so as to avoid duplication and at the same time we hope there will be a minimum sufficiency of beds for the veterans of this country.
Mr. ADAIR. Well, that would seem to be meritorious. How do you propose that the board be designated ?
Mr. KRAABEL. The Federal Board of Hospitalization would be created by Congress, with appointments by the President, and with the Administrator of Veterans Affairs and the Administrator of the Federal Security Agency and other Federal agencies having hospitals being members of the Board.
Mr. ADAIR. How large a board does that make? Mr. KRAABEL. The proposal calls for seven members of the Board. They would also have the right to bring in specialists at a per diem rate, whenever they needed them in the matter of medicine, engineering, construction, or allied fields.
Mr. Gough. Congressman Adair, I was just going to add this one point: A bill was presented yesterday by Madam Chairman. It is a bill we have requested. The number is H. R. 2862. That is to accomplish just what has been mentioned. I would like to insert that bill at this point:
[H. R. 2862, 83d Cong., 1st sess. ] A BILL To establish a Federal Board of Hospitalization, and for other purposes Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there is hereby established a Federal Board of Hispitalization (hereinafter referred to as the “Board”) to be composed by the Attorney General of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Interior, the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, the Federal Security Administrator, the Administrator of General Services Administration, and the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs. Each member shall appoint an alternate to serve in his absence.
SEC. 2. The Administrator of Veterans Affairs shall be Chairman of the Board, and he shall be designated an Acting Chairman from the membership of the Board to serve as Chairman during his absence. The Board shall meet at such time and place as may be designated by the Chairman.
SEC. 3. The Board may, in accordance with the provisions of the civil-service laws, the Classification Act of 1949, and Veterans Preference Act of 1944, as amended, appoint and fix the compensation of such officers and employees, and make such expenditures, as may be necessary, to carry out its functions, within the limits of any appropriation, or appropriations, made for such purposes. Officers and employees of any other department or agency of the Government may, with the consent of the head of such department or agency, be assigned to assist the Board in carrying out its functions. The Board may, with the consent of the head of any other department or agency in the Government, utilize the facilities and services of such department, or agency, in carrying out the functions of the Board. The Board may call upon and seek the advice of experts in the fields of medicine, hospital construction, and allied fields. The number and terms of service of such advisers shall be determined by the Board, as they may, individually, be paid compensation at a rate not in excess of $50 for each day actually spent in the work for the Board, plus necessary travel and subsistence expenses.
SEC. 4. The Board shall initiate studies of and analyze and review the hospital, convalescent, and domiciliary activities of all departments and agencies of the Federal Government in order (1) to prevent overlapping, duplication, and overbuilding of such facilities; (2) to insure the most efficient and complete utilization of the total hospital, convalescent, and domiciliary facilities of the Federal Government by each department and agency; (3) to determine the need for existing or additional hospital, convalescent, and domiciliary facilities of each department and agency; (4) to determine the area and locality in which such additional facilities should be provided; (5) to determine the extent to which non-Federal facilities may be used to supply beds for any department or agency; (6) to develop a complete over-all plan relative to facilities for providing within or through the Veterans Administration adequate hospitalization and domiciliary care for persons who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States; and (7) to make studies and recommendations with respect to such matters as may be referred to the Board by the President, or by any member of the Board : Provided, That the functions of the Board shall not include authority to determine the manner in which the responsible heads of the Federal departments and agencies concerned shall operate hospital and domiciliary facilities under their jurisdiction, or to require the transfer of medical and . related personnel from one department or agency to another, or to diminish the authority of any department or agency head to determine the extent to which beds in facilities under his control and operation shall be made available for the hospitalization, care, and treatment of beneficiaries of other Federal departments or agencies.
SEC. 5. No project for acquisition of additional hospital, convalescent or domiciliary beds by new construction, major alteration, or leasing of, or contracting for existing facilities shall be undertaken by any department or agency until it has been submitted to and reviewed by the Board as to need, location, type of construction, and any other factor which the Board may consider pertinent to the performance of its responsibilities, nor until the resulting recommendation of the Board shall have been approved by the President: Provided, That any department or agency may acquire additional beds to meet a temporary seasonal, epidemic, or emergency requirement, if such acquisition does not require new construction: Provided further, That the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force may acquire limited hospital facilities involving temporary type of construction only, and not exceeding three hundred beds for any one project, if no other suitable Federal hospital facilities are available: And provided further, That each project, involving the acquisition of beds under the first and second provisos of this section, shall be reported to the Federal Board of Hospitalization at the time approval thereof is given by the head of the department or agency concerned.
SEC. 6. Recommendations of the Board accompanied by substantiating data in support of the proposal shall be transmitted by the Chairman for the consideration of the President. Whenever the adoption of any recommendation is not unanimous, such recommendation shall be accompanied by a summary of the views or objections of the minority members.
SEC. 7. There are hereby authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary and appropriate to carry out the provisions and purposes of this Act.
Mr. ADAIR. Thank you. I have one final question, and I apologize for taking so much time.
The CHAIRMAN. We like to have these things brought out, and the text of H. R. 2862 may be inserted as requested.
Mr. ADAIR. The final question is this: It is estimated that we are producing veterans at the rate of at least 100,000 a month now. I assume that obviously you have taken that into account in formulating this program.
Mr. Gough. We have indeed, sir.
Mr. ADAIR. Looking forward' into the future, since that may be the case for some time to come, do you anticipate that that will make any considerable difference in the veterans' program of hospitalization or other services?
Mr. Gough. No; I do not. We still feel that the figure of 131,000 beds is a figure to be attained at the present time, and we do not see that the change will be too material. Some have confused their thinking on that because unfortunately in the original recommendation of the Hoover Commission they referred to the fact that a veterans' program for benefits and services and hospitalization would be for 1842 million veterans.
Actually the beds are available for only seven-tenths of 1 percent of the veteran population. That is a realistic figure if we have the beds referred to; viz, 131,000. Now, there is not anything to what some people think of in regard to all veterans indiscriminately and families, and so on, being cared for. That has never been our position. It is an infinitestimal percentage of the veterans that we are concerned about, and the veterans who do have the need for the hospital.
Mr. ADAIR. Primarily the service-connected man, Mr. Commander?
Mr. Gough. Primarily the service connected, the neuro-psychiatric, and the TB and the chronic.
Mr. BONIN. Mr. Commander, is it the opinion of the American Legion that Public Law 361 of the 77th Congress is being fairly administered?
Mr. Gough. Public Law 361 is the one that refers to education, is it not?
Mr. BONIN. No. I believe that it refers to service-connected disability. However, with no proof being established, or a lack of a