Reforming Health Care If Hillary Was President

Seeing all the political problems arising from attempts to pass health care reform I’ve thought several times that it is a good thing that Barack Obama and not Hillary Clinton was elected. We do not know yet if Obama will be successful, but my bet is that if Clinton had been elected health reform wouldn’t stand a chance and we’d be looking towards a GOP controlled Congress in 2010.

Both Paul Krugman and Kevin Drum have used the craziness surround the health care protests to argue that it doesn’t matter who is president. That misses the point. Right wing lunacy occurs all the time whenever there is a liberal proposal. What is important is not the fact that we will see right wing lunacy but whether the lunatics are able to be effective.

Right wingers would protest any form of health care reform. They even called the moderate proposal by John Kerry in 2004 an example of “government takeover of health care.” One difference we would have if Hillary Clinton was president is that it would be Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama, who would be leading the Democratic Party. Most likely if Hillary Clinton was calling the shots we would have a proposal more based upon more government control with increased complexity of government regulations as we saw under HillaryCare. If we had a another Hillary Clinton style of health care reform, the chances are at least 50:50 that I would be opposing the plan.

Another factor is the ability of Obama to bring different sides to the table. Getting the insurance industry to cooperate is a long shot, despite legislation written to preserve their profits, but he is making more progress with the pharmaceutical industry. It is doubtful that Clinton would have ever received the support of the AMA as Obama has.

A comment posted at The Daily Dish provides another argument based on how Obama has responded to attacks different from how Clinton would have:

Krugman and Drum make some good points, but they leave out the most important point. It’s not about how people would react. It’s how the President would react to the reactions. This very week, Sec. Clinton lost her cool when she thought a student ignorantly insulted her. She didn’t explode or have a meltdown as some of her detractors would describe it. Nor did she strick a blow for women’s equality as her fans would tell you. She was placed in an awkward situation by a random questioner and she showed just enough anger/exasperation to make the tone of her answer the issue.

The President, on the other hand, regularly gets compared to Karl Marx and Josef Mengele by far more formidable opponents and deflects it deftly without a bead of sweat.

Does he never misstep? Of course not. I would say his handling of the Gates matter was such an instance. But he still had the self-restraint and perspective to somewhat salvage the situation and to turn it into a learning moment.

We don’t know if President Hillary Clinton would have had the stomach to tackle health care right away. If she did, yes we can assume that the attacks would have been just about as ugly. How would she have countered? If we are questioning our choice, that’s the question we need to be answering.

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  1. 1
    libhomo says:

    What we need is single payer.

  2. 2
    Eclectic Radical says:

    “What we need is single payer.”
    I happen to agree with this, when I don’t feel the need to go further and say what we need is ‘socialized medicine.’ However, while I would like to see a more aggressively comprehensive reform effort in place of what can be legitimately described as a health insurance industry bailout, Ron is right when he says that reform must sometimes be incremental.
    Gauging the mood of the American people, I don’t think single payer could pass right now. The atmosphere is too hostile toward such a sweeping reform, even if it would help many of the people hostile to the idea.

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