Monday, June 4, 2007

Hillary Clinton on Health Care--Trying the Divide and Conquer Strategy Once Again

In Sunday's Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton once again tried to isolate the insurance industry (as well as the pharmaceutical business) as a means to advance her health plan.

On health care Senator Clinton said, "What's important, and what I learned in the previous effort is you've got to have the political will--a broad coalition of business and labor, doctors, nurses, hospitals..."

So far so good. She is exactly right. Health care reform cannot happen unless all of the key stakeholders are in the same tent. In 1993/1994, she made a point of isolating the insurance industry and the devastating anti-Clinton Health Plan "Harry and Louise" ads were the result. Her isolation of the insurance industry was a pointless mistake. I was there in those days and, early on, the insurance industry desperately wanted to be part of the Clinton effort.

So, 13 years later where is she on bringing the insurance industry inside the tent?

Here's the rest of her comment: "...everybody standing firm when the inevitable attacks come from the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies that don't want to change the system because they make so much money out of it."

If you have seen one insurance company, you have seen one insurance company. She may be right about some and their attitude toward reform--but clearly not all.

Massachusetts seems to be the Democratic template for health care reform. I would ask Mrs. Clinton to take a good look at insurance company behavior there. Blue Cross of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim, Neighborhood Health, and Tufts have all been bending over backward to make that legislation work--from day one. The executive director of the "Connector," Jon Kingsdale, has done a great job with the cards he has been dealt to make it work--and he is a former Tufts executive.

I really hope Senator Clinton doesn't go down that divide and conquer route once again. Health care reform is too important.

See an earlier post on the history of the Clinton Health Plan and the insurance industry: Hillary Clinton Doesn't Like Health Insurance Companies and Never Has--But Demonizing Them Again Won't Get Us Health Care Reform
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