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News Briefs Two

Panel Calls for Reducing Number of New Physicians

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

A nonpartisan private commission predicted Thursday that price-driven changes in the way Americans receive health care will result in as many as 150,000 excess doctors by the year 2000 and recommended that the number of medical school graduates be cut by one-fourth over the next 10 years.

The commission, headed by former Colorado governor Richard A. Lamm and sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts of Philadelphia, said the reduction in medical graduates should be achieved by closing some of the nation's 127 medical schools, not by cutting class size. The recommendation comes as medical schools are reporting record numbers of applicants.

The commission recommended far-reaching changes in the post-graduate training of doctors to meet the need for fewer specialists and more primary care physicians, as well as restricting the number of foreign medical graduates coming to this country for post-graduate training. It also forecast major surpluses of nurses and pharmacists that it said will require closing some schools of nursing and pharmacy.

Congress Debates New Bill That May Up Speed Limits

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

Americans are only two votes and a presidential signature away from higher speed limits and a series of other rule changes that have raised hackles with safety groups but proven popular in Congress.

After months of wrangling, House and Senate negotiators have finally agreed on a new National Highway System bill with a number of side issues that have prompted more comment than its main purpose -- to release $6.5 billion in federal highway funds to states for the newly designated 160,955-mile highway system, which already handles a large share of the country's travel and commerce.

Battles over billboards and Amtrak held up the bill until this week. In the end, billboards won and Amtrak lost.

The legislation would allow states to decide whether to allow billboards on parts of scenic highways by removing the "scenic" designation on parts of the highway. But states would not be allowed greater flexibility to use highway money for Amtrak passenger train service.

The legislation also contains significant safety rule changes. All federal speed limits would be eliminated in favor of state laws, states would no longer be penalized for failure to pass motorcycle helmet laws, and federal safety regulation of smaller commercial trucks -- those under 26,000 pounds -- would be eased.t"The bill will kill more people than it will save, and that's the first highway bill that will do so," said safety advocate Joan Claybrook.