Recently, documents from the Clinton White House in 1994 were released, and the similarities between the “Jackson Hole” meetings that year on health care, and todays law, are pretty clear.
President Clinton tried without success to get the American Public to “like” his (wifes) “Hillary-Care” health insurance overhaul. “Alot of them want to know they can keep their own plan if they like it.” Sounds alot like the “If you like your plan you can keep it…” of the Obama Administration these last four years – a promise that was doomed from the first utterance. On April 19, 1994 the Finance Committee announced they were struggling with how to finance the program the President wants. 2 days later James Slattery says that “an employer mandate of any type will be devastating” and he would not support it. In May 1994 Bob Dole, on Meet the Press, states that “individual mandates aren’t going to pass.” He later went on to threaten to “filibuster and kill” any such bill.
In early summer the Republicans released their own proposal, which had no mandates, no premium caps and no price controls. At a July 19 meeting of the National Governors Association, President Clinton announces that his bill will bring covered Americans to “somewhere in the neighborhood of 95% upwards.” On August 25, 1994 the Democratic Party gave up on reforming healthcare… until 2008.
As Hillary Clinton considers a 2016 Presidential run this is sure to come up in the conversations, if not this fall in the MidTerm elections. The parallels between the two pathways are eerily similar, the only difference (to me) is that in 1994 the Republicans mounted a strong attack, and eventually beat it down. This time around, they did nothing.
It remains a shame to me that we have never been able to find a middle ground that would work.