Organ Donation

Initiative Set

The White House plans today to initiate renewed efforts to try to alleviate the nation's persistent shortage of Americans willing to donate organs to patients who need transplants.

Vice President Gore will announce that 18 communities, including the District and Baltimore, have been selected to receive a total of $5 million in federal money as the first phase of a new grants program intended to teach students and adults about the importance of donating organs, encourage family members to discuss donation, and to make it easier to register.

INS Chief Sees

Need for Overhaul

A Senate proposal to abolish the Immigration and Naturalization Service and replace it with a new, reorganized Justice Department agency got a cautiously positive reception yesterday from the head of the INS.

Doris M. Meissner told the Senate Judiciary immigration subcommittee that she agrees her agency needs an overhaul, even though she disagrees with some details of the proposal. She said the INS structure that blends keeping illegal aliens out and processing legal immigrants is "a strained structure designed for a different era."

The panel's chairman, Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.), is sponsoring a bill that would replace the INS with an Immigration Affairs Agency that would have two bureaus--one to enforce immigration laws and patrol the borders and another to handle the cases of legal immigrants.

Ex-Baucus Aide to File

Harassment Complaint

Christine Niedermeier, former chief of staff for Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), said she will file a complaint today with Congress's Office of Compliance alleging that Baucus engaged in "sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation" against her while she was employed by him from May 1998 through July of this year.

Niedermeier, who aired the charges earlier this month, said Baucus made improper comments, including "suggestions of a desire to have a relationship," and that she was fired in retaliation for complaining to him about his conduct. Baucus again denied that he harassed Niedermeier "in any way" and said she was dismissed because she "abused my staff, abused my constituents and abused other people she dealt with on the job."

Ban on Sampling

Boosts Census Cost

A Supreme Court ban on using statistical sampling to take next year's census is the main factor in a $1.7 billion boost in the count's cost, the General Accounting Office reported.

The Census Bureau had planned to use statistical sampling--counting more than 90 percent of Americans directly and then estimating the remainder--in the 2000 count, contending that it would save money and be more accurate than the 1990 effort. Following the ban on sampling, the Census Bureau requested additional funds for the census.

Boehner Introduces

Patients' Rights Bill

As the House prepares to debate how much to regulate HMOs, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) introduced legislation that reflects a conservative approach to "patients' rights" favored by most of the chamber's Republican leaders.

Boehner's bill would set up a powerful new appeals system for patients to protest when they are denied care and would make it somewhat easier for patients to get emergency room bills paid and to visit the doctors they want.

Unlike a similar measure Boehner pushed through a House subcommittee in June, the protections in his revised bill would apply to all Americans with private health insurance. But unlike two other HMO bills before the House, it would not give patients greater rights to sue their health plans for malpractice.

Ethics Probe

Moves Forward

The House ethics committee announced it was appointing an investigative subcommittee to determine whether Rep. Earl Hilliard (D-Ala.) had improperly used campaign and office resources and failed to comply with financial disclosure requirements. Hilliard said there was no merit to the charges.