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News Briefs 2

Apology, Money for Radiation Experiment Victims Recommended

Los Angeles Times

A presidential advisory committee will recommend Tuesday extending an official apology and financial compensation to a handful of the thousands of Americans who were unwittingly exposed to radiation in secret government-sponsored experiments in the years following World War II.

The committee studied nearly 4,000 experiments. But it concluded that only three, involving no more than a few dozen subjects, raised legal and ethical concerns severe enough to warrant offering apologies and compensation.

While criticizing the conduct of federal officials and others involved, the commission concluded that apologies and compensation were not appropriate in most cases because most of the experiments - conducted between 1945 and 1974 - posed little danger to participants.

The panel said it believed that people who were used as research subjects without their consent "were wronged, even if they were not harmed."

However, the panel said it was "not persuaded that financial compensation is necessarily a fitting remedy when people have been used as subjects without their knowledge or consent but suffered no material harm as a consequence."

An apology and compensation were called for, the report said, in instances where information about the experiment was kept from subjects for the purpose "of avoiding embarrassment" or potential legal liability, "and where this secrecy had the effect of denying individuals the opportunity to pursue potential grievances."

House Democrats Storm Out Of Meeting on Medicare

The Washington Post

House Democrats, charging that the Republican Medicare plan would pile unexpected costs on beneficiaries, stormed out of a Commerce Committee meeting Monday after Chairman Thomas J. Bliley Jr. (R-Va.), repeatedly gaveled down their demands for a week of hearings on the proposal.

Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), who organized the walkout, accused Bliley of trying to ram through the bill before committee members had a chance to review its details. GOP leaders released the bill last Friday and scheduled action for next week by the Commerce and Ways and Means committees before bringing the bill to the floor.

"The Democratic members of the committee see no reason to participate further in this charade, which will rob seniors of their health care," Dingell said.

Democrats are attempting to force delays in hopes that public opinion will turn against the GOP proposal. "The bill is essentially an outrage," said Rep. Frank Pallone (R-N.J.) "Senior citizens are supposed to pay more to get less."

GOP leaders say that their plan is crucial to salvaging the financially troubled Medicare hospital trust fund. But a new Washington Post-ABC survey found that the public disapproves of the Republican plan to change Medicare, 58 percent to 23 percent.