[N.B. Lots of events worth following today in the Democratic presidential nomination race. Wes Clark will be on CNN’s Late Edition and Jim Webb will be on the C-SPAN show Newsmakers. The Tom Harkin Steak Fry will also be Live – online. The Steak Fry with most of the presidential candidates attending will begin at 2:30 p.m., CST.]
The third, and final, part of Hillary Clinton’s health care plan will be presented tomorrow in a speech delivered from a Des Moines, Iowa Hospital. Details of the plan are beginning to emerge.
Hillary Rodham Clinton will plunge back into the health care debate tomorrow with a sweeping plan that would require all Americans to sign up for health insurance — putting her at odds with top rival Barack Obama, Newsday has learned.
Her new plan would also make it easier for companies with fewer than 10 employees to offer affordable insurance, an attempt to defuse the opposition of small business owners and insurers who financed the infamous “Harry & Louise” TV ads that doomed “Hillarycare” 14 years ago.
Hillary of course is the undisputed master and initiator of health care coverage for all Americans.
“I don’t think she’s got a lot to prove on health care at this point, she’s already got a tremendous amount of credibility on the issue,” said Jonathan Cohn, author of “Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis” and a fellow at the progressive Demos network. “Clearly the lesson everyone has taken from 1994 is that she was too ambitious, so I think she’s not going to be as bold or challenge people as much this time around.”
She doesn’t have any qualms about challenging her opponents, however. The small business incentives in particular are intended to be “a point of distinction between her and Obama,” said a source familiar with the planning.
Obama favors forcing employers, not individuals, to sign up for insurance. Edwards and Clinton favor an “individual mandate,” which conservative critics believe is the first step to socialized medicine.
The price tag for the Clinton plan will be closer to Obama’s $50 billion to $65 billion estimate than Edwards’ $90 billion to $125 billion plan, sources said.
It’s not clear if Clinton will finance her proposal by repealing the Bush administration’s tax cuts for the wealthy, as Edwards and Obama have proposed. On the campaign trail, Clinton has hinted that she would save money by fostering efficiencies and squeezing savings from insurers and drug companies.
All the major Democratic candidates have plans which have some similarities:
The long-anticipated initiative has much in common with the Obama and Edwards proposals. All three plans allow individuals to choose among a wide array of private insurance plans, all would create massive “purchasing pools” of patients to drive down costs to individuals and all would prevent insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing illnesses.
Edwards, Obama and Clinton would also pump hundreds of millions into additional funding for wellness programs, fighting chronic illnesses, improving mental health services, combating obesity and expanding free health care to more poor and working-class children.
“She first made a lot of these proposals in 1993 and they were regarded as revolutionary,” said Carol McDaid, a longtime health care industry lobbyist. “Now it doesn’t seem so revolutionary, it’s in the mainstream.”
Among the more incoherent attacks on Hillary by her opponents, regarding health care, is the notion that Hillary is beholden to health care lobbyists. At the same time the charge is made that she was too tough with health care lobbyists. Usually lost in the incoherent babble is the tens of millions of dollars spent by pharmaceutical companies to defeat health care when Hillary boldly attempted to reform the crumbling system.
One former insurance company executive recalled Clinton summoning top drug company executives to the White House for a dressing-down. “She storms into the meeting and ‘The days of profiteering in the pharmaceutical industry are over!'” the lobbyist recalled. “There were no handshakes, no ‘How was your flight’ … It was ugly, nasty. From that point on I knew her plan was dead.”
Clinton, who says she still bears “the scars” from the experience, is a less fearsome figure these days. Since being elected to the Senate, she’s enjoyed a good relationship with in-state drug companies such as Pfizer and has delivered federal funding to the hospitals she once demonized. Her rhetoric, particularly against Big Pharma, can still be fierce, but her pariahs are now patrons: The industry contributed more than $850,000 to her re-election campaign, the second highest level of contributions to any senator.
The charge of secrecy is also once again raised against Hillary and how her plan has been formulated, but of course no such “secrecy” charge is leveled against her opponents who also had private teams of health care specialists develop their plans. Hillary will be speaking with American voters to explain her plan.
Clinton also seems determined not to be undermined by a new “Harry & Louise,” pitching the plan all this week during a spate of network and cable TV appearances, a town hall meeting with voters and a Tuesday night webcast put on by media guru Mandy Grunwald.
“We’re taking this very seriously,” said a person in the Clinton camp. “It’s the biggest thing since we rolled out the campaign in January.”
We Need Hillary’s Experience And Wisdom To Make This Needed Change In Our Health Care System Happen.