I am pleased to sign S. 544, the Health Planning and Resources Development Amendments of 1979.
This legislation extends the health planning program which has become a crucial element of our national effort to reduce wasteful health care spending. It complements my proposed hospital cost containment legislation.
The success of health planning has depended upon the voluntary participation of over 50,000 citizens in all parts of the country. A renewed health planning program will enable these and other citizens to more effectively and efficiently allocate resources to meet the health needs in their own communities. This bill also recognizes the critical role that States must play in the planning process. An important new authority will provide Federal assistance to permit closure of excess hospital beds or their conversion to more appropriate and needed uses.
This legislation was enacted after a long and difficult passage through the Congress. I am disappointed that the bill contains amendments which may weaken the authority of planning agencies to control unnecessary spending and continues unneeded construction authorities. Yet the health planning structure remains intact and, with enactment of this legislation, has been given new life. I now look forward to a period of solid accomplishment as we move toward the goal of assuring all Americans equal access to quality health care at reasonable cost.