Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New York Times, WaPost Laud Hillary's New Approach to Health Care

Cross posted at Political Fleshfeast.

I can't believe the Iowa Caucuses are just three months away! I've been writing and publishing essays on behalf of Hillary Clinton for about eighteen months now, so I'm very excited to see how much things have progressed.

There are a lot of reasons why I strongly support Hillary Clinton, but her determination to make health care available to everyone in America is one of the foremost reasons. It's easy to say you support national health care, but there's only one candidate in the race - Democratic or Republican - who is universally known for her commitment to universal health care, and that candidate is Hillary Clinton.

A CBS News poll released Monday night suggests that Mrs. Clinton has already turned the health care issue from a liability to an asset, at least among Democratic primary voters: 61 percent said they had confidence in her ability to make the right decisions on health care, compared with 42 percent who felt that way about Mr. Obama, and 39 percent about Mr. Edwards. The survey also found that few voters held her responsible for the failure to pass universal health insurance during her husband's presidency. New York Times

Now, based on a wealth of experience that no other candidate can match, Hillary Clinton has presented a new health plan that has the advantage of being based on all that she learned, politically and substantively in the fight over the old one. I feel so encouraged that last night I started a new blog, the Americal Health Choices Plan Blog, just to have a place to post this new health plan in a way that it will be readily available (not in PDF) for all to study and discuss.

And it's clear Hillary has learned a lot. The New York Times reports today,

Mrs. Clinton and her aides emphasized that her plan would not create any new federal agencies, a senior adviser did acknowledge that the government would need more workers to oversee the expanded options. It is too early to say how many workers, or at what cost, the adviser said.

The candidate and her aides also underscored that her plan was a broad outline, that it would change in the political process and that she was keenly aware of a need to build consensus. New York Times

The Clinton team eagerly points out the lessons they learned from the unsuccessful efforts to implement national health care back in 1993:

Gene Sperling, a campaign adviser who worked on the first Clinton health-care effort when he served on the White House staff, said the Clinton plan would be financed by letting elements of the Bush tax cuts affecting high-income earners expire, although he said over time that her proposals for reducing medical costs would also help pay for the program.

"She felt very strongly it was important to show we were reversing the irresponsibility we've seen over the last years," Sperling said.

Sperling said there were at least three major differences between the 1993 proposal and the current one: It would not require patients to enter into a national alliance, but instead allow people to keep their existing coverage; it would not have a single government entity making decisions; and it would not penalize small businesses for failing to provide insurance but would instead encourage them through tax credits.

"It is a simpler plan," Sperling said. "It allows people who are happy with their coverage to keep their coverage. It not only doesn't have any major new bureaucracy, it relies much more on choice and competition to keep prices down."

"We're not writing every single detail of this plan," said Laurie Rubiner, Clinton's top health-care policy adviser, adding that Clinton learned her lesson in trying to be overly prescriptive. "We're going to leave a lot of this to the congressional committees." Washington Post

Although all Democratic presidential candidates realize that health care will be perhaps the most important domestic policy issue in the 2008 race, and they are all promising to implement national health care, it is unlikely that any candidate can show as much knowledge of the issue in a debate, both substantively and in terms of the political struggle that is to come.

The New York Times reports today,

In Mrs. Clinton's speech on Monday and in policy briefings afterward, her camp emphasized that many of the powerful interest groups around health care - including business, labor, consumer advocates and hospitals - had begun to seek common ground as the number of uninsured approaches 50 million. But even as Mr. Edwards sought to portray her as insufficiently independent of special interests, Mrs. Clinton said she would not shrink from a fight with drug and insurance companies.

She said she would put new regulations on the insurance industry, "eliminating discrimination" against those with health problems. Doing so, she acknowledged, will not make her the industry's "woman of the year." New York Times

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