Liberals said Thursday that they were ready for a fight with the health care industry and would not be outmaneuvered as they were in 1993-94, when President Bill Clinton’s effort to guarantee insurance for every American collapsed.
“In 1993, interest groups sounded supportive and made nice at the outset, but then turned and used all their resources to oppose reform,” said Judith Feder, a Clinton administration official who is now a senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress. “They pretended to favor reform, and undercut it at every step. This time we are not going to let them get away with it.”
MoveOn.org, the liberal advocacy group, joined the National Education Association and Health Care for America Now, a grass-roots coalition, in mobilizing support Thursday for Mr. Obama’s efforts to remake the health care system.
In a letter to Mr. Obama, five senior Republican senators said they were eager to work with him. But they rejected one of Mr. Obama’s campaign proposals, which called for creation of “a new public insurance program,” to compete with private insurers.
“Forcing free-market plans to compete with these government-run programs would create an unlevel playing field and inevitably doom true competition,” the letter said. “Ultimately, we would be left with a single government-run program controlling all of the market.”
The letter was signed by Senators McConnell and Grassley, along with Senators Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Orrin G. Hatch of Utah.
By contrast, Richard J. Kirsch, the national campaign manager of Health Care for America Now, said that a public plan option, similar to Medicare, was “an essential component of health care reform,” and he added, “We are going to fight for it through the end.”
Health Care for America Now’s National Campaign Manager Richard Kirsch believes the effort can work this time.
‘We have unity in a common position amongst the Democratic leadership of Congress and the large, organized progressive base representing the American people,’ Kirsch told reporters in a conference call.
Today, a coalition of groups brought to the White House more than 300,000 petitions gathered by MoveOn.org, the grass-roots powerhouse that helped elect Obama and scores of congressional Democrats.
“Don’t let the insurance lobbyists delay health care any longer. In this economic crisis, we can’t afford not to pass quality, affordable health care for all this year,” the petition states.
“We’re ready,” said Richard Kirsch, who heads Health Care for Americans Now, a leading consumer advocate that is helping to organize the political campaign targeting insurers.
Progressive organizations including MoveOn.org and the Center For American Progress are adamant about reforming health care — and not letting insurance company lobbyists get in the way. That was the message conveyed this morning in a conference call with reporters conducted by the Health Care For America Now coalition ahead of President Obama’s summit on health care…