KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Clinton Papers Reveal Failed Health Law Efforts

Newly released papers offer a glimpse of how the former president's team had hoped to win over moderate Republicans as well as Democrats, and also reassure Americans that the plan wouldn't disrupt coverage if they already had it.

NBC News: Clinton Docs Offer Glimpse Into Failed Health Care Fight
Newly released documents from the Clinton White House reveal a candid assessment of the looming fight over the administration’s doomed health care plan, as advisers tried unsuccessfully to steer the sprawling legislation through Congress. A series of 1993 memos and briefing notes shows how the Clinton White House anticipated -- but was ultimately overwhelmed by -- Republican lines of attack against the health care reform effort, which collapsed under criticism through 1993 and 1994. ... Laying out an early strategy for pushing the plan through Congress, the summary memo urged tight control by an elite group of White House officials -- a strategy that ultimately drew criticism as one reason for the legislation’s demise (Dann, 4/18).

Politico: Bill Clinton's 'Keep Your Plan' Dilemma 
During an August 1994 prep session for a presidential press conference -- which was supposed to set up a health care reform vote that never happened -- Clinton and his aides discussed how to make the public feel more comfortable about a health care plan that was supposed to cover all Americans ... Just like Barack Obama did during the passage of his health care law, Clinton wanted to reassure Americans that his health care plan wouldn’t disrupt their own coverage if they already had it, according to a private White House transcript of their conversation. ... Even after Clinton raised the point, though, there was no discussion of the critical question that got Obama in trouble years later: Can the president really make that promise? (Nather, 4/18).

The Associated Press: Clinton Sought GOP Support For Health Care 
President Bill Clinton's advisers estimated early in his term that passing a health care overhaul would require a delicate balance of Democratic and Republican support, needing at least eight moderate Republicans in the Senate and 15 or more in the House to win approval, according to documents released Friday. ... A strategy memo from 1993 argued the plan would require support from enough conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans without alienating too many liberal Democrats. But the bill never cleared a House committee (Thomas, 4/18).

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