The Corner

The one and only.

‘Obama hopes to avoid Clinton health care missteps’


A friend e-mails:

I went looking for an article like this; can’t believe how perfect this one is. 

I have put my favorite parts in bold.

Updated 12/8/2008 12:12 PM 

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Barack Obama and his aides are determined not to repeat the mistakes the Clinton administration made 15 years ago in trying to revamp the U.S. health care system. That means applying some of the lessons learned — moving fast, seizing momentum and not letting it go.

Tom Daschle, Obama’s point man on the issue, discussed the early strategy, although details of Obama’s proposals won’t be finalized for a while. Already, however, the political and public relations parts are coming into place.

The strategy begins with giving people the chance to highlight their concerns and experiences. Daschle invited people around the U.S. to hold what amounts to house parties from Dec. 15-31. Obama’s transition team will gather the information from those meetings and post the material on its website,

By asking anybody and everybody to share their health care experiences, Daschle is confronting one of the major criticisms of 15 years ago: that the effort to craft former President Bill Clinton’s plan for universal coverage was too secretive.

“We have to make this as inclusive a process as possible,” Daschle, the former Senate majority leader from South Dakota, said in a speech in Denver. It was his first since Democratic officials confirmed last month he was offered the job as health and human services secretary and that he had accepted. . . .

Daschle maintains the efforts to bring about universal health coverage in the first two years of the Clinton presidency took too long. In a book published this year, he urged the next president to act immediately to capitalize on the good will that greets any incoming administration. His speech and recent behind-the-scenes meetings with lawmakers and consumer groups address that point. . . .

“Details kill,” Daschle said. “If we get too far into the weeds, if we produce a 1,500- or 1,600-page bill, we’re going to get hung up on all the details and we’re never going to get to the principles.”. . . 

Health insurers put out their own plan this past week and it mirrored some of Obama’s proposals, including expanding government-funded programs such as Medicaid to help out the poor. But the insurers want to require that people buy insurance, while Obama only supports a coverage mandate for children. They also oppose requiring companies to provide insurance or pay into a pool, referred to as the “play or pay” mandate.