Bill Clinton – Imperfect Healthcare Reform Better Than None – Healthcare

The current healthcare reform debate must bring up some bad memories for former President Bill Clinton. He, with the help of then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, tried to enact their own bill to reform the health insurance industry early in his first term. Their attempts failed to receive enough support from his party and failed; the Democrats then suffered a humiliating defeat in the 1994 mid-term elections. Yesterday, he visited the Senate to encourage the Democratic party to vote in favor of reform. His primary hope is that President Obama and congressional Democrats don’t repeat his mistakes; namely, a legislative process that continued to drag on.Clinton told the senators that it is imperative that the current combination of tens of millions of uninsured people and expensive health insurance plans must change as soon as possible. While he didn’t touch on specifics, such as the public option or the amendment that bans abortion coverage from subsidized health insurance, Clinton implored them to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. From his experience, he came to believe that it would have been better if Democrats had passed some form of healthcare reform in the early 1990s–even if it wasn’t ideal–as opposed to allowing the problems to fester for the past decade-plus. Some are worried that it is far harder to modify a law once it’s in place, as opposed to amending it on the legislative floor. Their concerns are valid, but Clinton warned them of his own travails.So far, important Democrats have been following Clinton’s strategy on health insurance. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had representatives working a rare Saturday night shift in order to get the bill passed, and included several compromises. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has vowed to have passed a reform bill by Christmas. Ever since the inauguration, the Obama administration has pushed Congress to get a healthcare reform bill on his desk and signed by the end of this year, even to the detriment of other domestic priorities like the recession. Clinton claims that successful reform will actually help the economy, by decreasing the crushing cost of a health insurance plan for many Americans. Presumably, consumers could then use the money they save on premiums for spending, thereby increasing our GDP. However, Republicans are planning to debate the healthcare reform bill for as long as possible, for weeks months if necessary. It is somewhat suspicious that supporters want to move such important (and long) legislation through Congress so quickly. Some legislators have even failed to read the nearly 2,000-page bill–although maybe their aides have.Will Bill Clinton’s speech help get healthcare reform passed? He is a polarizing figure, but is greatly respected and admired among his own party. Negotiating the release of two North Korean hostages earlier this year proved that he still has political clout with the general public. His own attempt at reforming the health insurance industry gives him the ability to give helpful advice on the pitfalls; however, his baggage gives conservatives more ammunition in their fight against reform. In Clinton’s era, Republican groups and health insurance providers were successful in scuttling healthcare reform by claiming that it will negatively impact Americans’ existing health insurance plans –the famous “Harry and Louise” ads are a case in point. Back then, Clinton was also more adamant about enacting a single-payer health insurance plan, which allowed opponents to stoke the public’s fears of socialized medicine and governmental takeover. This time, such a comprehensive government-run program is a non-starter, but even the scaled-down public option (for the uninsured and those with pre-existing conditions) is untenable for many. They are again threatening the seats of conservative “Blue Dog” and moderate Democratic politicians. Both sides learned lessons from the last healthcare reform fight; the only thing that remains is who will win this time.