Clinton Defends Health Care Proposal on Talk Shows
Presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) on Sunday appeared on five talk shows and discussed her proposal to expand health insurance to all U.S. residents and several other issues, the Washington Post reports (Kornblut, Washington Post, 9/24).
The American Health Choices Plan, which Clinton announced last week, would require large employers to offer health insurance to employees or contribute to a federal fund that would help workers purchase coverage. In addition, the proposal would provide tax subsidies to small businesses to help cover the cost of health insurance for workers. The proposal also would allow employers to select health plans from a network of private plans under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program or a public plan modeled on Medicare. All residents would be required to be insured (California Healthline, 9/19).
On Sunday, Clinton said that the proposal "builds on what works in America but takes aim at what doesn't and comes up with some very common-sense ways of fixing our problems" (Washington Post, 9/24). She added that a "moral imperative" exists for the U.S. to provide health insurance for all residents.
Since the 1990s, "we've seen millions of more people without insurance and many millions more who have insurance, except when they really need it and the insurance company tells their doctor or the hospital they won't pay for the needed treatment," Clinton said (Yen, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/24). She said, "The real goal for our country right now is to get beyond partisanship. ... I know how to seek and find common ground, but I also know how to stand my ground" (Bellantoni, Washington Times, 9/24).
In response to criticism of the proposal by Republican presidential candidates, Clinton said, "I'm waiting for any Republican candidate to come out with a plan that can be really scrutinized, that we can ask hard questions about. It seems as though they're in the 'just say no' category" (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 9/24). In related news, the Chicago Tribune on Monday examined how, although "Clinton's proposal to extend health coverage to all Americans by giving them choices gets high marks from businesses because their employees wouldn't have to give up what they have," the plan "won't be without losers among large employers who could end up paying more in the long run, given her pledge to provide choice, choice and more choice" (Japsen, Chicago Tribune, 9/24).
The Wall Street Journal on Monday examined how presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) during his campaign has combined "red-meat conservative lines with feel-your-pain prescriptions for health care" in an effort to "distance himself from his moderate record" and "reach voters in the middle."
For example, as governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed a law that requires all residents to obtain health insurance, a mandate opposed by many conservatives, but he "gets around that problem by saying, as president, he would let each state craft its own program and give them flexibility to use federal funds as they saw fit," according to the Journal. In addition, in a "typical pirouette, he uses the health insurance issue both to denounce Democrats and embrace bipartisanship," the Journal reports (Jacoby, Wall Street Journal, 9/24).
A combination of factors has "helped health care escape its legacy as a second-tier election-year concern" in the 2008 presidential campaign, McClatchy/Kansas City Star reports.
Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said, "For decades, health care reformers were acting on altruism," but the "issue is now an issue of self-interest. ... I don't know if we've reached that tipping point, but we're getting closer and closer to where this is an issue that must be addressed because the American public demands it" (Pugh, McClatchy/Kansas City Star, 9/23).
In each party, candidates are "straining at the margins to find distinctions," according to American Enterprise Institute resident fellow Thomas Miller (Lipman, Cox/Orlando Sentinel, 9/23).
Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute, added that Republican candidates have changed their positions on health care since the 1990s. "You have Republicans who were railing against government-run health care in 1993 and 1994 who are presenting the same ideas that Hillary Clinton was presenting then and now," he said (McClatchy/Kansas City Star, 9/23).
Several newspapers recently published editorials and opinion pieces on the Clinton health care proposal. Summaries appear below.
- John Fund, Wall Street Journal: "Clinton claims she now realizes she'll need actual votes to pass something," OpinionJournal.com columnist Fund writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. However, "traces of the old Hillary remain," Fund writes, adding, "The real test may be her willingness to accept some market-oriented GOP proposals ... as the price for the bipartisan support she now claims to want. Now that really would be a New Hillary" (Fund, Wall Street Journal, 9/22).
New York Times: Voters will "have a clear choice of which way the candidates are headed" on health care, and "we far prefer the Democrats' approach to health insurance, since at least they want to address an issue that must be resolved for reasons of economics, public health and fairness," a New York Times editorial states. According to the editorial, "voters who put a high priority on covering all or most of the uninsured will prefer the Democrats' approach, as we do," and those who "put a higher priority on reshaping the health care system along free-market lines than on achieving universal coverage will prefer the Republican plans." However, all of the proposals "fail to provide a plausible solution to the problem that has driven health care reform to the fore as a political issue: the inexorably rising costs that drive up insurance rates and force employers to cut back on coverage or charge higher premiums," the editorial states. Many "experts doubt that any" of the proposals "will truly put the brakes on escalating health care costs," and none of the major candidates "has the vision or the political courage to propose radical solutions" to address the "inexorably rising costs" of health care, according to the editorial (New York Times, 9/23).
- Robert Goldberg, Washington Times: The Clinton proposal, a "hybrid" of liberal and conservative plans, has "some good, even important, features" but also "runs on a lot of hot air," as the "numbers don't add up," Goldberg, vice president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, writes in a Washington Times opinion piece. Goldberg adds that he supports "a uniquely American health care system to counter her slimmed down version of Michael Moore's socialist solution" because "trying to scare Americans about Hillarycare is not enough (Goldberg, Washington Times, 9/24).
- Donald Lambro, Washington Times: Clinton "remains a big-government liberal to the core," despite "all her centrist-sounding makeovers and political camouflage," Lambro, chief political correspondent for the Washington Times, writes in an opinion piece. Her proposal "would put the all-powerful federal bureaucracy in charge of our private health care system, lock, stock and barrel," Lambro writes, adding, "Maybe she didn't learn from her mistakes after all" (Lambro, Washington Times, 9/24).
Video of an appearance by Clinton on ABC's "This Week" and expanded ABC News coverage is available online (Stephanopoulos, "This Week," ABC, 9/23).
Video of her appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation" is available online (Schieffer, "Face the Nation," CBS, 9/23).
A transcript of appearances by Clinton and HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" is available online.
Video and a transcript of her appearance on Fox News' "Fox News Sunday," as well as expanded Fox News coverage, are available online (Wallace, "Fox News Sunday," Fox News, 9/23).
Video of her appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" is available online. A transcript of the complete program is available online (Russert, "Meet the Press," NBC, 9/23).
KCRW's "Left, Right & Center" on Friday included a discussion about the Clinton health care proposal, among other issues (Huffington et al., "Left, Right & Center," 9/21). Audio of the segment is available online.
PBS' "Washington Week" on Friday also included a discussion with John Harris, editor-in-chief of The Politico, about the Clinton proposal (Ifill, "Washington Week," PBS, 9/21). Video of the segment is available online. A transcript will be available online Monday afternoon.