Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was in Des Moines this morning from a forum on health care that was broadcast nationally on ABC television. The event arranged by "Good Morning, America" producers featured Clinton and a group of 200 invited guests.
The former First Lady told the group she "learned a lot" when she tried but failed to enact a universal health care system when her husband was president. "I believe the American people are going to make this an issue in the 2008 campaign," Clinton said. "…I learned a lot back in 1993 and ’94 about how to bring us together to actually start down the path towards universal health care coverage…We can do this in America if we put our minds to it."
According to Clinton, that goal is more achievable today than it was 14 years ago partly because the number of uninsured Americans has grown. "It’s hard to ignore the fact that nearly 47 million people don’t have health insurance, but also because so many people with insurance have found it’s difficult to get health care because the insurance companies deny you what you need and so there are many millions of more people who have had that experience either themselves or in their families," Clinton said. "And a lot of businesses are now saying: ‘We can’t continue afford to continue to do this.’"
Clinton points to not only small businesses but large businesses that cannot compete globally because of the skyrocketing cost of providing health care benefits for their employees. "The other thing we have more information about now is how much money we’re not spending the right way in our health care system," Clinton said. "We spend more money than anybody in the world by a very big number, but we don’t provide people insurance and we waste a lot of money and we don’t get the best results."
Clinton suggested the most likely scenario at the federal level will mimic what’s happening in states like Massachusetts and California where businesses which fail to provide health care coverage for workers have to pay a fee or tax per employee. "I think we have to have a uniquely American solution to health care," Clinton said. "…The reason I haven’t set out a plan and said, ‘Well, here’s exactly what I think we should do,’ is because during this campaign I want the ideas that people have. I want to hear from you who have different perspectives about what you think will work."
At 10 o’clock this morning, former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack and his wife, Christie, will appear at a news conference in Des Moines to publicly endorse Clinton’s bid for the White House. Senator Clinton was asked about it this morning on ABC. Clinton described herself as a "big fan" of the former governor and a long-time acquaintence of Tom and Christie Vilsack because of a "really close" personal friendship with Christie Vilsack’s deceased brother.