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HOUSE VOTES TO END HEALTH-CARE PROGRAM

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After intense pressure from upset senior citizens, the House voted 360-66 Wednesday to repeal the entire catastrophic health care insurance program that it enacted just last year.

The program was requested by former President Reagan to pay for senior citizens the costs of long-term illness to prevent financial ruin and was originally hailed by senior citizen groups. But they condemned it when it required senior citizens to pay a surtax to fund it.Reps. Jim Hansen and Howard Nielson, both R-Utah, voted to eliminate the program and also opposed an unsuccessful "compromise" amendment that would have salvaged part of it. Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, was among the few who voted to retain the program or restructure it.

Hansen and Nielson reported heavy lobbying by Utah senior citizens opposing the plan, but Owens said he received little - probably because he announced early that he favored trying to salvage it.

"Thousands of my constituents wrote, called, confronted me at public meetings and sent telegrams with one common message: Get rid of the Catastrophic Health Care Act," Hansen said.

Nielson was one of the few House members who opposed the insurance plan last year when it coasted through the House on a 328-72 vote.

He said it is unfair to make senior citizens pay for health-care costs of non-senior citizens, including AIDS victims, and to make senior citizens who already obtained adequate insurance to participate in the plan anyway, said his press secretary, J. Morgan Young.

The repeal of the insurance program, which was contained in a budget reconciliation bill, now goes to the Senate.

Supporters of the plan pledged to save it. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., said senior citizens have been given misleading information about the program, and most opposition has come from well-to-do elderly who don't want to help pay for care of less well off senior citizens.