The Lost Crusade

Democrats had plenty of time to do something about health care reform:
Just five days after taking the oath of office, Clinton appointed then-first lady Hillary Clinton to head a Task Force on National Health Care Reform on Jan. 25, 1993. The task force would draft legislation to work as a basis for the president’s overhaul of the industry.

First Lady Hillary Clinton testifies for the final day before the Senate Finance Committee on Health Care September 30, 1993. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

Over the course of the next year, the Clinton administration and Hillary Clinton attempted to sell their proposal to Congress, to the American people and to big business.

On the congressional front, the administration was met with some staunch opposition. Democrat Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee and former Democrat Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana put forth their own proposals, which undermined key aspects of the Clinton plan. And the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies, eventually threw its support behind Cooper’s plan, marking the first nail in the coffin for the Clinton’s.

The medical industry also stood against the bill. Non-profit group Citizen Action reports that hospital systems, insurance companies, drug companies and doctors spent in excess of $26 million lobbying members of Congress to vote against the measure in 1993.

The Clinton administration, embattled with debates on NAFTA, criminal investigations regarding congressional leadership and major foreign policy decisions, realized that health care reform did not have the support it needed to pass. By August, 1994, health care reform had taken a back seat. Their failure to pass the promised health care reforms was a major set back, and a boost for conservatives in Congress for nearly two decades.
Health care fail? The Democrats were there first...

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