President Clinton escaped the nation's capital Monday to push his health-care agenda and raise money for Democratic candidates.
The escape, however, will be brief. Clinton will cut short his three-day trip by one day in order to be in Washington Wednesday morning to meet with his foreign policy advisers about the embassy bombings in Africa.First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will stand in for her husband at events scheduled in Milwaukee on Wednesday.
Clinton opened his trip here with a moment of silence for the 12 Americans and 200 Africans who died in the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
The president also issued another call on Congress to approve a "patients' bill of rights," which would give Americans new power to sue health care providers. He promised to veto an alternative proposal pushed by Republican congressional leaders that, if passed, would allow health maintenance organizations to define which health services are "medically necessary."
"When you're wheeled into the emergency room, you shouldn't have to start negotiating with your health plan," the president said. "If you have rights with no remedies, are they rights?"
He announced a new regulation that would prohibit insurers participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program from using "gag clauses" that he said prevents physicians from discussing certain medical treatment options with their patients. The federal health program has 350 participating plans that serve 9 million federal workers and their families.
"I've done what I could administratively," Clinton said. "A lot of states are acting in this area too. (But) there is no substitute for a national law."