- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 9, 2000

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Hillary Rodham Clinton, trying to sound more like a senator than a fledgling candidate, told a group of health care workers yesterday that she hopes to introduce a bill to lower drug costs.
The first lady's proposal would allow U.S. distributors to import approved prescription drugs from Canada, where they are cheaper. Legislation already pending in Congress would allow drug imports from other countries, as well.
"Prescription drugs are a necessity, yet they are priced as a luxury," Mrs. Clinton told about 500 doctors, nurses, students and others at a hospital connected with the University of Rochester.
But Jackie Cottrell, a spokeswoman for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group representing about 100 companies, said Mrs. Clinton's proposal "would overturn landmark consumer-protection legislation" the Prescription Drug Marketing Act approved in 1988 that banned the reimportation of prescription drugs.
Mrs. Clinton's "scheme … could hurt patient safety," Miss Cottrell said.
In Rochester, Mrs. Clinton also used her half-hour speech to restate her support for a patients' bill of rights, for adding prescription-drug coverage to Medicare, and for more funding to help teaching hospitals such as Strong Memorial Hospital, where she spoke.
At the gathering, a representative of the New York Nurses Association also announced that it was endorsing her in her tight race against the as-yet undeclared Republican candidate, New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. The association is the state's largest nurses union, with 33,000 members.
After Mrs. Clinton's speech, she attended fund-raisers before staying overnight at a local hotel.
Today, she is scheduled to talk about education at Syracuse University.
While she carries her campaign to Albany tomorrow, Mr. Giuliani plans to visit Buffalo tomorrow and Friday to help Jet Blue Airlines inaugurate its new commercial air service.
Spending more than 30 minutes signing autographs and chatting with the health care workers after her speech apparently paid off for Mrs. Clinton.
Before she addressed the group, Dr. Andrew Rudmann, a professor of general medicine, said he "probably" would vote for her, but said he had not made up his mind.
After meeting her, the Bowie, Md., native said he would definitely choose Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Giuliani.
Dr. Rudmann said Mrs. Clinton, a first-time candidate, never asked him to vote for her, unlike President Clinton, who habitually requested people's votes.
Andrew Karam, the medical center's radiation-safety specialist, said he was visiting a friend in Little Rock, Ark., during the 1980s, when then-Gov. Bill Clinton knocked on his door to ask for his vote.
When Mr. Karam told him he couldn't vote in Arkansas because he didn't live there, Mr. Clinton told him maybe he'd have a chance to vote for him "someday."
It prompted him to vote for Mr. Clinton in 1992 and 1996, and he now plans to vote for Mrs. Clinton.
While Mrs. Clinton spoke yesterday, about a dozen police officers and Secret Service officers stood by her.
Members of the press went through a security screening with a bomb-sniffing dog before being ushered into the Kornberg Medical Center.
Employees and others who attended signed a guest log before entering the facility, but they did not undergo similar security checks.
Virtually no members of the general public appeared to attend the meeting, similar to her other tightly controlled campaign events.
A spokesman for the hospital said it did not have time to advertise the event because her campaign only confirmed plans for it over the weekend.
The hospital then e-mailed employees and students to tell them about the speech.
Mrs. Clinton did stage one public event during her motorcade from Buffalo to Rochester: She stopped by a local diner to chat with several patrons.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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