I read with interest the Jan. 1 news story "Military Health Costs Rupture as Doctors Deploy to Gulf." While CHAMPUS (the military's health insurance program) costs have continued to rise recently -- both before and after the deployment of forces to the Persian Gulf -- I don't believe that this article portrays all the actions that Congress and the Department of Defense are trying to implement to solve this financial problem.
Since the end of September, the military has called up medical personnel, including doctors, from the reserve forces to fill on a one-for-one basis openings left by active-duty medics deployed overseas.
In regards to the CHAMPUS reform initiative, I will not try to second guess why the Defense Department decided not to expand this test program, because it seems to have slowed medical-cost growth in California and Hawaii. However, after extensive discussions with medical experts in the Pentagon, I must say that I agree with this decision.
Containing cost growth through this reform program is a commendable effort, but there may be other ways to contain and even reduce costs. The Defense Department's coordinated care concept, which allows local commanders to manage their entire medical care budget, including CHAMPUS, seems to be a sound way to reduce costs.
The new Navy hospital at Camp Lejeune, N.C., which is mentioned in the article, is a model for medical hospitals that are being built and staffed to provide quality care. The top floors of this hospital are not unused, but are fully stocked, locked and ready for use on a contingency basis to take in casualties from overseas. In the past two years, Lejeune has increased its outpatient load by 50,000 appointments, instituted a health care provider network and maintained a constant level of medical health care providers through the use of reservists. JOHN P. MURTHA U.S. Representative (D-Pa.) Washington