Clinton-Era Healthcare Reform Warriors Sending in Reinforcements

Veterans of the Clinton administration's efforts to reshape healthcare are lining up to cover all Americans.Veterans of the Clinton administration’s efforts to reshape healthcare policy are lining up to support President Barack Obama’s plan to extend coverage to all Americans and make medical care more affordable.  Although this group isn’t a believer in making concessions to the opponents of reform, they have an attentive audience because of their hands-on experience and belief that Democrats can’t afford another healthcare failure.

“If Bill Clinton couldn’t get it done, and Barack Obama can’t do it, no Democrat will ever try again,” said Len Nichols, an economist and health policy director at the New America Foundation.  Nichols is currently an unofficial advisor to lawmakers and Obama administration officials hammering out details of the proposed healthcare reform legislation.  Another veteran of the Clinton-era healthcare reform effort, Chris Jennings, says “History is written by the victors, not the vanquished.  Failure would serve as the ultimate judgment as to whether this effort was worth doing.  Jennings, congressional liaison for Hillary Clinton during the 1990s, now works as a lobbyist.

The current healthcare reform legislation is significantly scaled back from the ambitious Clinton plan, though it still faces Republican opposition.  The Obama plan concentrates on people who have the most difficulty obtaining and retaining health insurance – small businesses and those who buy their own coverage.  “We are using the private insurance market and private incentives, as opposed to command-and-control,” Nichols said.  “As a policy matter, we are in the middle.”

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