Clinton Health Care Plan of 1993 - Criticism


Starting on September 28, 1993, Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared for several days of testimony before five congressional committees on health care. Opponents of the bill organized against it before it was presented to the Democratic-controlled Congress on November 20, 1993. The bill was a complex proposal running more than 1,000 pages, the core element of which was an enforced mandate for employers to provide health insurance coverage to all of their employees through competitive but closely regulated health maintenance organizations (HMOs). The full text of the November 20 bill (the "Health Security Act") is available online.

Opposition to the Clinton plan was initiated by William Kristol and his policy group Project for the Republican Future, which is widely credited with orchestrating the plan's ultimate defeat through a series of now legendary "policy memos" faxed to Republican leaders. Conservatives, libertarians, and the health insurance industry proceeded to campaign against the plan, criticizing it as being overly bureaucratic and restrictive of patient choice: The conservative Heritage Foundation argued "the Clinton Administration is imposing a top-down, command-and-control system of global budgets and premium caps, a superintending National Health Board and a vast system of government sponsored regional alliances, along with a panoply of advisory boards, panels, and councils, interlaced with the expanded operations of the agencies of Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor, issuing innumerable rules, regulations, guidelines, and standards."

The effort also included extensive advertising criticizing the plan, including the famous Harry and Louise ad paid for by the Health Insurance Association of America, which depicted a middle-class couple despairing over the plan's complex, bureaucratic nature. Time, CBS News, CNN, the Wall Street Journal and the Christian Science Monitor ran stories questioning whether there really was a health-care crisis. Op-eds were written against it, including one in The Washington Post by University of Virginia Professor Martha Derthick that said:

In many years of studying American social policy, I have never read an official document that seemed so suffused with coercion and political naivete ... with its drastic prescriptions for controlling the conduct of state governments, employers, drug manufacturers, doctors, hospitals and you and me.

Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan qualified his agreement that "there is no health care crisis" by stating "there is an insurance crisis" but also indicated "anyone who thinks can work in the real world as presently written isn't living in it." Meanwhile other Democrats, instead of uniting behind the President's original proposal, offered a number of competing plans of their own. Some criticized the plan from the left, preferring a single payer system.

Read more about this topic:  Clinton Health Care Plan Of 1993

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