Tags: new | Hillarycare

Hillary to Unveil New Hillarycare

Sunday, 16 Sep 2007 09:25 PM

By Linda Feldmann, The Christian Science

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In a presidential primary season dominated by the Iraq war,

the No. 1 domestic issue roars onto center stage Monday as

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) of New York unveils her

proposal for healthcare reform.

For Senator Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic

nomination, the issue is fraught with risks. In 1993 and

1994, she oversaw the failed effort by her husband, former

President Clinton, to remake healthcare in America. The old

Clinton plan, which would have mandated coverage for all

employees through health maintenance organizations, was

lampooned by opponents as a government takeover. Mrs.

Clinton was also criticized for operating in secrecy.

Now, the former first lady is seeking to turn that failure

into a positive - and, so far, is succeeding. A recent

poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation shows that,

among all the presidential candidates, voters see Clinton as

placing the biggest emphasis on healthcare. She tops the

list with a plurality of 27 percent, followed by Sen. Barack

Obama (D) of Illinois with 6 percent. Among Democrats,

Clinton is also by far the candidate seen as best

representing their views on healthcare, with 35 percent.

Among Republican voters, former New York Mayor Rudolph

Giuliani was the top choice, with 8 percent.

"Senator Clinton starts off with an edge on health," says

Dean Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

That's "not because the voters have scrutinized the details

of anyone's plan, and obviously she's only released pieces

of hers so far, but just because they so closely associate

her with the issue."

On the stump, Clinton herself often refers to her abortive

healthcare reform in the '90s, a failure that played a

significant role in the voters' rebuke of her husband during

the 1994 midterms, when the Republican Party seized control

of both houses of Congress. But she tries to spin that

failure into a positive, telling voters that her efforts

show how deeply she cares about the issue and that she has

"the scars to show for it."

The last piece of Clinton's health plan, to be announced in

a speech Monday in Des Moines, Iowa, will focus on insuring

the uninsured, a segment of the population that has swelled

to 47 million people in the US, out of a population of 300

million. According to published reports, citing Clinton

aides speaking on background, the senator's proposal would

require insurance companies to accept all applicants for

coverage and would limit insurers' ability to charge higher

premiums because of preexisting conditions.

The plan, these aides and advisers say, would also aim to

make health insurance more affordable for those who already

have it. She aims to have universal healthcare in the United

States by the end of her second term, a goal analysts call

optimistic.

Clinton has already unveiled portions of her healthcare

plan. They include: a "prevention initiative" to help people

avoid contracting preventable conditions, focus on improving

care for the chronically ill, establishment of a

public-private "best practices institute," easing

restrictions drug imports, requiring Medicare to negotiate

for lower drug prices, and computerization of healthcare

records.

Achieving such reform would require bringing on board an

array of stakeholders, including government, insurance

companies, the pharmaceutical industry, physicians and

hospitals, employers, labor, and citizens. Clinton hinted at

the magnitude of the task last week in a forum sponsored by

the liberal website Huffingtonpost.com: "We've got to have a

political consensus in order to withstand the enormous

opposition from those interests that will have something to

lose in a really reformed healthcare system."

Clinton is the last of the major Democratic candidates to

announce a healthcare plan. Senator Obama's plan aims to

cover most of the uninsured by creating a new public plan.

Of the top-tier Democratic candidates, former Sen. John

Edwards of North Carolina aims to cover all of the uninsured

by 2012. Both Obama and Mr. Edwards would pay for their

plans by eliminating tax cuts on high-income Americans.

The Republican candidates approach the issue differently,

aiming to boost coverage by providing tax incentives that

make it easier for consumers to buy coverage from private

insurers. Mr. Giuliani would provide a tax deduction of up

to $15,000. Former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts is not

proposing a nationalized version of the statewide healthcare

reform he instituted, which requires residents to purchase

health coverage. Instead, he believes solutions should be

reached state by state, with the federal government playing

a supporting role through tax incentives and flexibility in

the use of federal healthcare funds.

Whether healthcare emerges as a major factor in how voters

select the nominees remains to be seen. But Mr. Altman of

Kaiser foresees a major debate on healthcare during the

general election, in which different visions between the two

parties are already clear.

"There's no question there will be a lot of mud-slinging and

demagoguery," Altman says. "Already, we've heard the

Republicans calling the Democratic approach socialized

medicine, and for all we know, the Democrats will call the

Republican approach Dickensian capitalism. Beneath all that,

there are actually very different, sincerely held ideology

and policy beliefs about which way healthcare should go."

© 2007 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved. Reprinted Via Rightslink.

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