Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Could Health Care Elect Hillary Clinton?

Whatever happens between now and then, Obamacare will still be an issue in 2016 and, if the former First Lady is a candidate, it will bring health care reform full circle after two decades.

That could be a wholesome development for the body politic, taking the debate back to the climate of 1993 before Tea Party rancor reduced it to an ugly surrogate for hatred of America’s first African-American president.

Back then, the Clintons embarked on a serious effort to fix a broken system and, if they made tactical mistakes, the opposition and their eventual defeat occurred in a comparatively rational Washington.

A sadder but much wiser Hillary Clinton, with unquestioned political achievement of her own, would be the ideal President to restore sanity to the issue. At the very least, this time she would not be facing the resentment of an unelected First Lady taking the lead.

As Obamacare rollout unfolds, it will face more than the technical glitches impeding progress. Experience will undoubtedly show possible substantive improvements, but could they be made in the face of Cruz-driven do-or-die rhetoric?  Two years from now, as the 2016 campaign unfolds, there will be enough experience with the Affordable Care Act to identify issues and start making efforts to strengthen it.

Who better to lead the charge than the Hillary Clinton who said in 1993:

“Millions of Americans are just a pink slip away from losing their health insurance, and one serious illness away from losing all their savings. Millions more are locked into the jobs they have now just because they or someone in their family has once been sick and they have what is called the preexisting condition.

“And on any given day, over 37 million Americans—-most of them working people and their little children—-have no health insurance at all. And in spite of all this, our medical bills are growing at over twice the rate of inflation, and the United States spends over a third more of its income on health care than any other nation on Earth.”

If she were running for the White House two years from now, the former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State would be overwhelmingly qualified to revisit that argument and reassure Americans that Barack Obama’s achievement was not a government takeover but the beginning of a long-term improvement in the state of their health care.

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