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Friday, October 8,1999__ Page 2
House OKs insurance bill
■ The measure will help make the
health insurance industry more
responsible for its actions,
WASHINGTON (AP) - Capping a two-year
struggle, the House approved a sweeping bill meant
to give patients a stronger hand in dealing with their
health insurance companies, including a controver
sial new right to file lawsuits.
The final vote, 275-151, came after intense lob
bying on both sides, including President Clinton,
who phoned lawmakers from Air Force One.
“It is time we asked the insurance industry to be
responsible for its actions,” said Rep. Charlie
Norwood, R-Ga., who joined with Democrats to
push the bill - first to the House floor and then to
Earlier Thursday, the House rejected a GOP
backed patient protection bill that included new
rights to sue but only in federal court and only in
limited circumstances. That vote was 238-193, with
29 Republicans joining all but two Democrats.
For two years, Democrats have put the GOP on
the defensive over the politically popular HMO
issue. Republican leaders, struggling with a slim
majority and a fractured caucus, did not endorse
any bill until debate opened on the issue this week.
But they worked fiercely in recent days to rally
support for their version. Many Republicans reluc
tantly supported it in hopes of defeating the broader
Democratic bill, and supporters painted it as a com
promise between the Democratic approach and
“We’ve got a solid, balanced approach that I
urge you to support,” said House Speaker Dennis
Hastert, R-Ill. “The difference in these bills is how
far you go. How far you give license to the trial
But Democrats argued that it did not go far
“It fails to hold health care providers account
able. It lets them off the hook,” said Minority
Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo.
Now die House bill must be reconciled with a
considerably more limited version already
approved by the Senate. The Senate bill has no new
rights to sue and excludes many Americans from
other patient protections.
Also Thursday, the House rejected, 284-145, the
most modest of four competing patient-protection
bills. Backed by Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, it
would have given patients new rights to file law
It was the first choice of conservative
Republicans and their allies in the business and
It also rejected a similar plan backed by Reps.
Amo Houghton Jr., R-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham,
R-S.C. Backers hoped it would attract more
I endorse this legislation
Democrats, but it failed 269-160.
Federal law now effectively bans such lawsuits
for millions of Americans, even if they are injured
or die because of an HMO’s decision.
The bill approved Thursday allows patients to
sue HMOs in federal or state court and to collect
whatever damages a jury might award.
Managed care has dominated the health debate
on Capitol Hill all year, as Congress responds to
voters’ frustration over cost cutting and fears they
may be denied needed care.
Meanwhile, hoping to keep Democrats united,
Clinton on Thursday sent a letter to Capitol Hill
restating his strong support for a broad bill that
would give patients a host of new rights, including
new rights to sue.
Democratic leaders feared that concerns over
how to pay for it may cost them votes, but Clinton
sought to clarify that he still strongly supports the
bill. He promised not to sign any bill that was not
fully paid for.
“I endorse this legislation without reservation,”
Clinton said in a letter to Gephardt.
Mexico rescuers try
to reach remote areas
TEZIUTLAN, Mexico (AP) -
With dozens of people believed*
buried alive in mudslides, rescue
workers struggled Thursday to reach
remote towns in southern and cen
tral Mexico, where flooding brought
on by more than a week of rain has
killed at least 124 people.
Government officials said the
death toll was certain to rise as
reports come in from towns now cut
off from the outside world. Flooding
sent rivers roaring over their banks
in 10 states across the southern and
central portions of the country.
More than 157,000 people have
been forced from their homes.
In Mixun, a village in the moun
tains of the Puebla state, about 105
miles northeast of Mexico City, a
mudslide buried 15 homes and a
school. Ten people escaped but at
least 40 others were believed
trapped in the mud, said Juan
Francisco Ponce Salas, an official in
the Pantepec municipality, which
The school was empty on
Wednesday at the time of the mud
slide, Ponce said Thursday.
Another Pantepec official, Luis
Francisco Diaz, appealed for assis
Seventy people were confirmed
dead in the state of Puebla, state
Gov. Melquiades Morales said
Thursday in a radio address. Most
had been killed in mudslides in
remote communities, and crews
were at work repairing roads in
order to reach die stricken areas, he
The death toll included at least
26 people who died near Teziutlan.
The mountain city 110 miles east of
Mexico City recorded more than 80
mudslides, one that swept away 20
houses, said Julieta Perez, secretary
general for the municipality of
Townspeople said 30 to 40 peo
ple could still be buried in the mud.
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THE DAILY NEBRASKAN
Mourners make memorial
at site of London wreck
■ Authorities say they
will not be able to explore
all of the wreckage until at
LONDON (AP) - A mass of twist
ed metal, charred human remains and
random personal belongings began to
transform into a memorial site
Thursday as authorities investigating a
massive train collision allowed a few
dozen mourners to lay flowers and say
In the commuter town of Reading,
where dozens of people waited for con
firmation of die loss of a loved one still
missing from Tuesday’s crash, a bou
quet lay in die town center with this note
attached: “Daddy come home. I love
The agonizing wait didn’t appear to
be ending any time soon.
Authorities said Thursday they
wouldn’t even be able to get inside one
of the centers of the wreckage until at
least Saturday. They believe dozens of
victims may have been inside a first
class coach where the fire ignited by die
head-on collision was particularly
Without remains, the Westminster
coroner said Thursday that identifying
the dead will likely involve procedures
including DNA testing.
“I think it’s quite likely that we will
have to do this in the weeks ahead,” said
Dr. Paul Knapman. “I think it is very
likely that very few, if any,-identifiable
people will come out of that carriage.”
Knapman said 25 bodies were in the
Westminster mortuary. Only one had
been positively identified, and 17 others
had been tentatively identified, he said.
Thirty-three deaths were confirmed
from the crash, the worst rail disaster in
Britain mat least a decade, and police
fear the toll could more than double.
But die living already know who didn’t
come home, who left a car unclaimed at
a railway station parking lot, whose
mobile phone rings, unanswered, amid
Deputy Prime Minister John
Prescott said he would move swiftly to
adopt improved safety systems for the
In Reading, 35 miles west of
London, police said about 50 cars
appeared to be unclaimed in the station
Forgotten Beethoven tune found
LONDON (AP) - A hushed silence
fell over the audience Thursday as a lone
violin played the first plaintive bars of a
forgotten composition by Ludwig van
Beethoven, hidden away for almost two
» The string quartet movement is just
23 bars, penned for a young British trav
eler in 1817 and discovered recently
among the papers of the Molesworth St
Aubyn family in Penearrow, Cornwall.
“The true moment of discovery was
today, when I heard it for the first time,”
said Stephen Roe, head of Sotheby’s
books and manuscripts department of
Thursday’s performance at the auction
house. “It is so beautiful. I am very
Sotheby’s will offer the manuscript
for sale on Dec. 8 and estimated the auc
tion price at up to $330,000.
The tragic tone of the piece, com
posed 10 years before Beethoven’s
death, speaks of dark despair, character
istic of Beethoven’s later work.
The music was a gift from the
German composer to Richard Ford, a
traveler and writer who inscribed the
score: “This quartette was composed
for me in my presence by Ludwig v.
Beethoven at Vienna Friday 28th
November 1817 Richard Ford.”
The score was spotted by Roe in
August when he was invited by the fam
ily to value a collection of autographs
and manuscripts. Roe subsequently had
the work checked with other Beethoven
Sotheby’s expert Simon Magjiire
said the music came after a barren peri
od for Beethoven, and at the start of a
flurry of activity.
Donald Trump considers
candidacy in Reform Party
WASHINGTON (AP) - Real es
tate tycoon Donald Trump
announced Thursday that he was
forming an committee to help him
determine if he could win a presiden
tial race as a Reform Party candidate.
He said his first choice for vice
president would be Oprah Winfrey.
“The only thing that could inter
est me is if I could win. I’m not talk
ing about the nomination, I’m talking
about the whole megillah,” he said in
a telephone interview from New
Trump had dinner Thursday night
with Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura -
the Reform Party’s leading elected
official - and actor Woody Harrelson.
Cloud rises from volcano;
officials expect ash rain
QUITO, Ecuador, (AP) - The
Guagua Pichincha volcano near tins
Andean capital on Thursday spewed a
cloud of smoke shaped as the mush
room from a nuclear blast, and offi
cials warned they anticipate an ash
rain similar to the one that already
killed one man.
The huge cloud, caused by sever
al gas explosions inside the 15,850
foot volcano, emerged slowly at
about 7 a.m. and was clearly visible
from almost anywhere in the city
under crystal clear sky.
The mushroom - dark gray in the
inside, white in the edges - was sever
al kilometers high.
Flu death statistics prompt
calls for vaccinations
WASHINGTON (AP) - The flu
appears to have killed more
Americans than usual last winter, and
there is also a growing threat from
bacterial pneumonia - underscoring
doctors’ pleas Thursday for
Americans to get both a flu vaccina
tion this month and a protective shot
Although both shots are free for
Medicare patients - those most at risk
- one-third of such patients don’t get
regular flu shots, and 55 percent have
never had a pneumonia vaccine, said
a study released Thursday.
Twins released after tribe
promises it won’t hurt them
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -
After months at a Bogota adoption
home at the center of a bizarre cus
tody battle, a pair of 8-month-old
twins will be returned to their Indian
tribe after its elders promised not to
hurt the children. £
Customarily, the U’wa tribe aban
dons twins in the forest or tosses them
into rivers, believing they are ill
equipped for life and bring bad luck.
Juan and Keila Aguablanca were
spared that fate when their parents fat
them in a public health clinic three
days after their Feb. 11 birth. Their
case drew attention to customs many
Colombians consider barbaric and
put the U’wa once again in the public
The combative 8,000-member
tribe threatened mass suicide in 1997
in a successful protest to stop oil
drilling on their lands and has become
a cause celebre among many U.S.
environmentalists and indigenous
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