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Health briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 18, 2000

New rules on organ transplants unlikely

WASHINGTON -- Negotiations over organ transplant policy between the House and Senate have fallen apart, making it virtually certain Congress will adjourn without approving new rules governing the system.

At issue is who should have final say over transplant policy: the government or the private contractor that runs the system.

It has been a bitter fight since early 1998, when the Clinton administration issued regulations directing that more donated organs go to the sickest patients.

The administration argued that the current system, based largely on geography, meant that certain patients were dying because of where they live. But some hospitals and states feared that under new rules, they would lose organs to places where more patients are waiting or where fewer organs are donated.

House approves two bills on veterans' benefits

The House on Tuesday approved a cost-of-living increase for veterans disability compensation and moved to make it easier for veterans to file benefit claims.

The new cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, is to become effective Dec. 1. It will be the same as the Social Security COLA, which is determined each year by the increase in the government's Consumer Price Index. Last year the COLA was 2.4 percent.

A second bill requires the veterans affairs secretary to make reasonable efforts to help a veteran obtain the records he needs to file a claim for benefits.

It reverses a decision by the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims last year that committed the VA to helping veterans only when it can be proved that their claim is "well-grounded."

The bills now go to President Clinton.

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