Rodham Clinton Returns to Health Care Issues
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is working to "recast" her 1994 universal health insurance proposal -- which "drew withering fire from an array of interest groups and died in a Democratic Congress" -- as a "badge of honor" and as "invaluable preparation for dealing with the problems in the health care system today," the New York Times reports. According to the Times, her efforts indicate an "evolution from an impatient agent of change to a cautious senator -- and potential presidential contender -- keenly attuned to the political center."
In recent years, Rodham Clinton has proposed more incremental health care reforms, and her "first major goal appears to be universal health coverage for children" through an expansion of SCHIP, according to the Times. Rodham Clinton said, "I think you should cover all children who don't have other access to coverage. We shouldn't have any uninsured children."
In her first term as a senator, Rodham Clinton has not called for universal health insurance and says she has "focused primarily on defending existing programs from cuts by conservatives," the Times reports. She also has not provided details for a comprehensive health care reform proposal.
Rodham Clinton said, "It depends on what kind of system you're devising. And that's still not at all clear to me, what the body politic will bear."
In addition, she has partnered with former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) on "goals like upgrading medical information technology," the Times reports. According to the Times, Rodham Clinton also "often frames" the health care issue as "one of economics as much as social justice" and maintains that health care costs affect the ability of U.S. companies to compete in the global market.
She said, "Profits are up, but so are the costs of health care and energy, adding more than $1,000 to the cost of every car built by the Big Three and driving up family health insurance premiums five times faster than incomes" (Toner/Kornblut, New York Times, 6/10).
In related news, the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday examined the agenda that Democrats plan to announce this week for health care and other domestic policy issues for the 2006 election campaign. Democrats will discuss the platform, which likely will include a proposal to reduce prescription drug costs, this week at a conference in Washington, D.C.
In May, the Democratic National Committee distributed thousands of leaflets that outlined six parts of "The Democratic Vision," which included "a health care system that works for everyone." According to the Chronicle, "Democratic strategists are split among those who believe the party must aggressively show voters that they offer a reasonable alternative and those who warn against providing a target that might rally opponents," but, regardless of the agenda, Democratic candidates and their aides said that health care costs, along with the war in Iraq and gas prices, "are dominating the debate in congressional elections" (Sandalow, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/12).