Talk:Coalition for Health Insurance Choices

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The SourceWatch entry on the Coalition for Health Insurance Choices seems to have a blind spot. In fact, HIAA represented middle- and smaller-sized insurance companies, not the half dozen largest firms, which were quite happy with Clinton's 'managed care' plan.

That's because Hillary Clinton had invited the largest firms to participate in the Jackson Hole summit in early 1993, where the Clinton plan was crafted. (No consumer advocates were invited -- this became the subject of a later lawsuit against Ira Magaziner and the Clinton Administration.) The result was that, on TV and in the mainstream press, the great health care debate of 1993-1994, turned into a contest between a plan (Clinton's) that benefited the largest insurance companies and the Republican side speaking on behalf of the rest of the industry.

What got bounced out of the debate was true universal health care -- single-payer national health insurance, represented in the Wellstone Senate and McDermott House bills. The Wellstone bill was 35 pages long; Clinton's was over a thousand. The GAO determined that single-payer would have saved the most money.

It's disappointing that so many liberals and liberal organizations, who got swept up in the zeal for Clinton's very anti-liberal plan, still believe that managed care would amount to universal health care in any way. Even Clinton himself eventually conceded it wasn't quite universal.

The real outrage of the Coalition for Health Insurance Choices was not that it defeated the Clinton plan, but that it effectively banished public discussion of single-payer.

As FAIR documented in Extra! magazine at the time, ads for single-payer got blocked from broadcast by TV stations unwilling to risk the wrath of insurance company sponsors. The New York Times, several of whose board members also sat on the boards of major insurance firms (Aetna, Prudential, & MetLife, if I remember correctly), ran a graph comparing the various health care reform bills in October 1993, but "inadvertently" omitted the Wellstone-McDermott plan.

There's an entertaining, if troubling, account of the Clintons' health care reform botch in Christopher Hitchens' book 'No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton.' Ironically, Clinton got some revenge. Managed care, under our current HMO system, began to replace insurance for many Americans in the late 1990s.

The result is that over 44 million Americans each now lack coverage; Congress and the White House continue to bicker about prescription coverage for older Americans, but few will allow the possibility of single-payer. (Rep. John Conyers introduced a single-payer bill about a month ago, but it got no media coverage.) HMO and insurance lobby contributions continue to roll in for Congress members.

In 2000, Green candidate Ralph Nader ran on a single-payer national health coverage platform. Al Gore, during the 2000 presidential debates, dismissed single-payer, but in November 2002, declared that private insurance and managed care had failed miserably and endorsed single-payer. A few days later, Gore announced he wouldn't run in 2004.

More information on single-payer national health insurance: Physicians for a National Health Program,

Scott McLarty Media Coordinator, Green Party of the United States