Political Hay

Grandma Obamacare

Hillary as the Matriarch of Disaster.

By 12.3.13

Creative Commons

You can call her Grandma.

Grandma Obamacare.

Hillary Clinton is the matriarch of the disaster that Americans now scorn as Obamacare. And helpfully for opponents, she was kind enough to detail her role in this unending rolling disaster. As it were, in chapter if not verse.

In fact, Mrs. Clinton’s 2003 memoir Living History, an autobiography that takes her from childhood to the U.S. Senate, can be viewed as something unique in the annals of candidate biographies.

Hillary Clinton’s book is a literary landmine. A self-detailed look at just where all those false promises — about keeping your doctor and your health insurance if you like it — originated. Coming on top of Clinton’s role in the Benghazi disaster and the laughable “reset” of relations with the Russians (the latter still laughing at American demands to return NSA leaker Edward Snowden to the U.S.), this ten-year old book serves as nothing if not a precise accounting of the liberal mind at work as it lays the intellectual foundation for one of the greatest disasters in recent American history.

A hat tip to talk radio’s Hugh Hewitt for noting that Mrs. Clinton was the “grandmother of Obamacare.” In the spirit of the holidays, then, it’s only fair to point out that as Americans go over the river and through the woods of Obamacare it is thanks to Hillary Clinton. Who, if she had had her way in 1993-1994, would have plunged Americans into this morass back well before Barack Obama was even a lowly Illinois State Senator.

So let’s take a tour of Mrs. Clinton’s role in all of this — as laid out specifically by Grandma Obamacare herself:

On January 2 [of 1993], Bill invited me and two guests to lunch in the President’s small study near the Oval Office…

So begins chapter eleven of Living History, titled simply if perhaps now regretfully as Health Care.

The two guests other than Hillary at that fateful lunch with Bill a mere five days after he took office were “Carol Rasco, the newly named White House domestic policy adviser who had served in Bill’s administration in Arkansas, and our old friend Ira Magaziner, a successful business consultant who had produced a ground breaking study on health care costs.”

Hillary’s role that “few on the White House staff knew” was to serve, at her husband’s request, as the “chair” of the new president’s new “health care task force.” Her job? To “produce reform legislation during his first one hundred days in office.”

And what was her objective? Long before the buzz phrase that is today so associated with an unpopular President Obama, Hillary said she was about “access to quality affordable health care.” It “was a right Americans should be guaranteed.”

Out come the statistics that Americans have now heard endlessly. There were:

By the time Bill became president thirty-seven million Americans, most of them working people and their children were uninsured. They weren’t getting access to care unless they were in a medical crisis. Even for common medical concerns they wound up in the emergency room, where care was most expensive, or they went broke trying to pay for medical emergencies on their own.” In the early 1990’s, one hundred thousand Americans were losing coverage temporarily as they changed jobs. Small businesses were unable to offer coverage for their employees because of the exploding cost of health care premiums. And the quality of medical care was suffering, too: In an effort to control costs, in an effort to control costs, insurance companies often denied or delayed treatment prescribed by doctors in deference to their corporate bottom lines.

Rising health care costs were sapping the nation’s economy…

What to do about all of this and more (like “a projected deficit” of “$387 billion over four years”) that was causing all these health care woes? Mrs. Clinton’s answer, then as it is today for President Obama, was to have the U.S. government take over control of one-sixth of the American economy.

This process would begin at the conclusion of her lunch with Bill that January 25th when they adjourned to the Roosevelt Room where awaited “a crowd of cabinet secretaries, senior White House staff and journalists” to hear President Clinton announce that his wife would “chair a newly formed President’s task Force on National Health Care Reform, which would include the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Treasury, Defense, Commerce and Labor, as well as the Directors of Veterans Affairs and of the Office of Management and Budget and senior White House staff.”

In other words, Hillary Clinton was in charge.

And in characteristic liberal fashion, she admits something that is today all too evident with the masters and mistresses of Obamacare. Hillary Clinton says she “didn’t fully realize the magnitude of what we were undertaking.”

So what was Hillary Clinton saying in her memoirs that parses exactly with the reality of Obamacare today? What earns her the title of Grandma Obamacare?

Hillary Clinton promised the following:

If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.

Americans today are fully aware of President Obama’s promise that “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.”

They may be unaware that this line is a direct steal from Hillary Clinton, who wrote in her memoirs that if what had by then become known as “HillaryCare” was passed into law “most important, the system would allow patients to choose their own doctors.”

When Rush Limbaugh criticized the Clintons she writes (bold print for emphasis mine) that :

If you believed everything you heard on the airwaves in 1994, you would conclude that your President was a Communist, that the First Lady was a murderess and that together they had hatched a plot to take away your guns and force you to give up your family doctor (if you had one) for a Socialist health care system.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Rush Limbaugh was right in 1994 — and millions of Americans now learning that in fact they cannot keep their own doctor understand to their sorrow just how right Rush was.

Ironically, Hillary’s memoirs were published in 2003 — at which point she had been elected to the U.S. Senate from New York. And what’s now happening in New York? That’s right, as documented here in the New York Post, as the Post reports:

Elderly New Yorkers are in a panic after getting notices that insurance companies are booting their doctors from the Medicare Advantage program as a result of the shifting medical landscape under ObamaCare.

That leaves patients with unenviable choices: keep the same insurance plan and find another doctor, pay out of pocket or look for another plan where their physician is a member.

New York State Medical Society President Sam Unterricht is demanding a congressional probe after learning that one health carrier alone, United Healthcare, is terminating contracts with up to 2,100 doctors serving 8,000 Medicare Advantage patients in the New York metro region.

In other words, as a U.S. Senator from New York, Clinton was boldly writing in her memoirs that health care reform “would allow patients to choose their own doctors.” Today, her former New York constituents face the reality that what Clinton wrote in her memoirs has in fact proved decidedly not true when the reality of Obamacare — the grandchild of HillaryCare — arrived.

The goal of universal health care.

At one point President and Mrs. Clinton travel to Russia. While Russian president Boris Yeltsin met with Bill, Hillary was off with Mrs. Yeltsin to scope out the Russian health care system. Writing of this Clinton makes a startling confession about an agreement she shared with the Russians. This one agreement:

They shared our goal of universal coverage… 

Thus the cat out of Hillary’s bag. Just as it was years later when a 2003 video tape surfaced of U.S. Senate candidate Obama telling the AFL-CIO that:

I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer health care plan.... “Everybody in. Nobody out.” A single payer health care credit—universal healthcare credit. That's what I'd like to see…

Or when presidential candidate Obama told the SEIU in 2007 that:

My commitment is to make sure that we've got universal healthcare for all Americans by the end of my first term as President.... I would hope that we can set up a system that allows those who can go through their employer to access a federal system or a state pool of some sort. But I don't think we're going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There's going to be, potentially, some transition process. I can envision a decade out, or 15 years out, or 20 years out...

The only difference here is that Hillary happily confessed the same goal in her memoirs, in a line that has gone unnoticed because it appears in a book that is now ten years old. Not to mention that there is the not slightest sign that Hillary has a sense of irony about health care in the country that was ruled for decades by Communists when she writes:

The doctors we met were curious about our health care reform plan. They acknowledged the high quality of American medicine yet criticized our failure to give coverage to everyone.

In other words, in a system that had been managed by the Russian government for decades, Russian doctors were admiring of the high quality American health care system. The only flaw, with which Hillary Clinton agreed, was that the U.S. system was not run by the government. Which would, of course, have made the U.S. system like the Russian system, where the proud boast was that government run universal health care was of poor quality for everyone.

You can keep your health insurance if you want it.

One of the famous moments of the day in Grandma Obamacare’s fight for so-called “health care reform” was this insurance-industry sponsored TV commercial featuring a fictional couple named “Harry and Louise.” The couple, portrayed as average middle-class Americans, were seen sitting at their kitchen table studying their insurance plans as if “HillaryCare” had gone into effect. The line that had Hillary Clinton furious was this one from the commercial:

Louise: “This was covered under our old plan.”

Harry: “Oh yeah, that was a good one, wasn’t it?”

The tag line was “if we let the government choose, we lose.”

Both Clintons were upset with this devastating ad that said if Hillary had her way, the government would take insurance plans away from millions of Americans who had picked them on their own and replace them with a handful of government-selected choices.

These were “scare tactics” Hillary fumed in her memoirs, castigating the Harry and Louise commercial as an “absurdity.” Today, of course, millions of Americans are learning the hard way that this is exactly what Obamacare has done to their insurance plans.

Which is to say, President Obama’s fairy tale about “if you like your health insurance you can keep it” was first pushed years ago by Grandma Obamacare. And as millions are finding out in up close and personal fashion, and as the Wall Street Journal wrote last week, this line is simply not true. Noted the WSJ:

Meanwhile, ObamaCare's plans are limited to essentially four. Yes, four. The law converts insurance products on the ObamaCare exchanges into interchangeable commodities that finance the same standard benefit at the same average expense over four tiers known as bronze, silver, gold and platinum.

While the Journal didn’t mention either Hillary Clinton or Harry and Louise, its summation of the reality of Obamacare is exactly what Hillary Clinton said in her memoirs was an untrue “scare tactic” and an “absurdity.” The reality of Grandma Obamacare’s vision is the Harry and Louise commercial made real in millions of kitchens across the country.

In fact, the WSJ earlier published this piece by cancer patient Edie Littlefield Sundby which was sub-headlined:

I had great cancer doctors and health insurance. My plan was cancelled. Now I worry how long I'll live.

Catch that?

Here’s “Louise” in that 1994 TV commercial that Hillary Clinton labeled a “scare tactic” and an “absurdity”:

Louise: “This was covered under our old plan.”

 And here’s the real-life Edie Littlefield Sundby:

 I had great cancer doctors and health insurance. My plan was cancelled. 

Which is to say, Hillary Clinton…. Grandma Obamacare… was writing an untruth in her 2003 book just as President Obama is seen by many today as lying over exactly the same issue.

Obviously, the idea that one would have to finesse the truth to pass health care “reform” was alive and well in the Clinton White House just as it is today in the Obama White House. And Hillary Clinton was leading that charge.

The fifty employee employer-mandate.

Hillary was determined to make certain that there was a provision in her reform that “would require businesses with more than fifty employees to offer health insurance to their workforces.”

Grandma Obamacare’s idea is now reality. And it has been an unmitigated disaster. One company after another has reduced full-time employees to part-time to avoid what might be called the Grandma Obamacare employee mandate. As reported in the Christian Science Monitor:

Businesses cut full-time workers to meet Obamacare mandate, study says (+video)

A study of small businesses found that many are cutting full-time workers or worker hours to comply with Obamacare. Franchises are making the biggest cuts.

First, President Obama had to backtrack from his promise that if you like your health insurance plan, under Obamacare "you can keep it." Now, a new study is suggesting that, under Obamacare, "If you like your workweek, you can’t necessarily keep it, either."

About 30 percent of small franchises and 12 percent of other small businesses say they are cutting work hours — or swapping full-time for part-time workers — because of the law, according to a poll sponsored by business groups.

The moves are part of a bid to control health-care expenses, and they are a sign of how the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was designed to greatly expand the number of Americans who have health insurance, could be having some unintended consequences in the job market.”

A key ObamaCare incentive is an “employer mandate” that asks businesses to sponsor health insurance (or pay a penalty) if they have more than fifty full-time employees. It defines a full-time worker as one serving 30 or more hours per week. So a firm can avoid the mandate by having fewer than 50 people working full-time.

Grandma Obamacare strikes again.

And what lesson did Hillary Clinton learn?

Here it is, bold print supplied for emphasis:

Ultimately, we could never convince the vast majority of Americans who have health insurance that they wouldn’t have to give up benefits and medical choices to help the minority of Americans without coverage. Nor could we persuade them that reform would protect them from losing insurance and would make their medical care more affordable in the future.

With good reason.

Because now that Hillarycare has become Obamacare, replete with all of Grandma Obamacare’s promises that you can keep your doctor, keep your health insurance, that the employer fifty-employee mandate will work and that her real goal was to make the US health care system a universal coverage system — Hillary Clinton’s ideas are now reality for millions of Americans.

What does this mean if, as many suggest, Hillary Clinton is in fact the 2016 presidential nominee for the Democrats?

It means that the Grandma Obamacare label will stick like glue to the former First Lady-turned-Senator-turned-Secretary of State.

It will serve as an ongoing reminder that the same person responsible for Benghazi is the same person who is the grandmother of Obamacare.

The only difference is that Clinton has been less than forthcoming about Benghazi.

But health care reform? Mrs. Clinton is out there — well out there — with her record on health care reform spelled out in detail. By her. Those ideas are, in fact, now the law of the land. And every single Clinton idea on health care — as she herself wrote them up in 2003 — has turned out to be flatly wrong in practice, a disaster for those millions losing their doctors or their insurance in flat contradiction of her promises.

Who is Grandma Obamacare?

Maybe you can just call her the Matriarch of Disaster.

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About the Author

 Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan. An author and CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com and @JeffJlpa1. His new book, What America Needs: The Case for Trump, is now out from Regnery Publishing.