The Clinton Health Care Plan – What Went Wrong?

Learning from Failure in Health Care Reform – The New England Journal of Medicine

Jonathan Oberlander, Ph.D.

Since 1994, inaction and incrementalism have governed U.S. health policy, with the predictable result that both health care spending and the number of uninsured Americans have reached record levels. Indeed, worsening conditions in the health care system have triggered renewed interest in comprehensive health care reform. Signs of change in the health care debate are everywhere — in the formation of coalitions by business and labor groups to pursue reform, the launching of advertising campaigns by the American Cancer Society and the American Medical Association to highlight the plight of the uninsured, the pursuit of ambitious plans by states such as Massachusetts to expand insurance coverage, and the unveiling of an array of health care reform plans by candidates in the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries. Health care reform is even the subject of an attention-grabbing movie, Michael Moore’s Sicko…Read more

Clinton health care plan of 1993 From Wikipedia

The Clinton health care plan was a 1993 healthcare reform package proposed by the administration of President Bill Clinton and closely associated with the chair of the task force devising the plan, First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Bill Clinton had campaigned heavily on health care in the 1992 U.S. presidential election. The task force was created in January 1993, but its own processes were somewhat controversial and drew litigation. Its goal was to come up with a comprehensive plan to provide universal health care for all Americans, which was to be a cornerstone of the administration’s first-term agenda. A major health care speech was delivered by President Clinton to the U.S. Congress in September 1993. The core element of the proposed plan was an enforced mandate for employers to provide health insurance coverage to all of their employees through competitive but closely-regulated health maintenance organizations. Opposition to the plan was heavy from conservatives, libertarians, and the health insurance industry. The industry produced a much-talked-about television ad, “Harry and Louise”, in an effort to rally public support against the plan. Democrats, instead of uniting behind the President’s original proposal, offered a number of competing plans of their own. By September 1994, the final compromise Democratic bill was declared dead by Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell. Opponents of the plan continued to deride it in future years as “HillaryCare”…Read more

Obama’s health care plan mirror Clinton’s ’94 failure?

From CNN’s Ed Hornick
WASHINGTON (CNN) — In 1994, universal health care was a key policy plan for then-President Bill Clinton. It eventually failed.

Now, 15 years later, another Democratic president is taking on the challenge, but facing an uphill battle from not only from Republicans, but from members of his own party.

Will failing to reform health care have the same consequences for Obama’s administration as it did for Clinton’s?

Like Obama, Clinton came into office with reforming the nation’s health care system as one of his top priorities. Then-first lady Hillary Clinton, who headed the administration’s task force on reforming the system, delivered a 1,000-page plan that was dubbed “Hillary Care,” which required Americans and permanent resident aliens to enroll in a health plan. Other provisions included Americans below a certain income level paying nothing for care.

Republicans decried the plan as overcomplicated and used it to tag the administration as big government-loving, tax-and-spend liberals.

The plan’s failure emboldened Republicans and led to huge Democratic losses in the 1994 midterm elections, allowing the GOP to take control of Congress and stymie other Clinton initiatives…Read  more

Clinton’s Health Defeat Sways Obama’s Tactics


WASHINGTON — Before Congress’s August break, the chief aides to Senate Democrats met in a nondescript Senate conference room with three former advisers to President Bill Clinton. The topic: lessons learned the last time a Democratic president tried, but failed disastrously, to overhaul the health care system.

With the aides as divided as their bosses on President Obama’s signature initiative, their typically tedious weekly session turned hotly spirited. So the Clinton White House veterans — John D. Podesta, a former senior adviser; Steve Ricchetti, a Congressional lobbyist; and Chris Jennings, a health policy aide — homed in on their ultimate lesson of the failure 15 years ago, that there is a political cost to doing nothing…Read more


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