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Clinton Takes the Lead -- on Health Insurance Reform

By Ceci Connolly
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) returned from the presidential campaign trail to Washington as relatively junior member of a chamber that prides itself on tradition, seniority and rules. So when she put out feelers seeking to leapfrog over more veteran senators in light of her national stature, the idea was quickly nixed.

So too was her hope to take the lead on health-care reform. Two Senate giants -- Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who is chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee -- had already staked their claims on that turf.

Now it looks like she will get another crack at health-care reform efforts, after all.

While President-elect Barack Obama weighs whether to give his former rival a Cabinet post, Kennedy today deputized Clinton to run a special Senate task force on health insurance reform.

Clinton will lead "a committee working group" on insurance coverage, Kennedy announced, while Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) will oversee a subgroup on prevention and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) is heading up the quality task force.

Kennedy, who is undergoing treatment for brain cancer, has made clear he intends to press Obama to deliver on campaign promises to broaden and improve America's health systems. He plans to meet Wednesday with Baucus and the two top Republicans on their respective committees.

By Web Politics Editor  |  November 18, 2008; 5:15 PM ET
Categories:  Hillary Rodham Clinton  
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Dear Senator Kennedy, The last thing I would like to see is Hilary Rodham Clinton involved in the healthcare reform, unless she has clarified to you and the others she will work w/that she is there to support a plan that does NOT mandate coverage paid for individuals. I had several years of having to pay for my own health insurance. I have taken a job recently that pays substantially lower than the job I held when I was paying my own health insurance, because I CANNOT AFFORD to BUY health insurance. I live in Massachusetts and am required to have health insurance. NO INSURANCE PLAN I CAN AFFORD is worth 5 cents. I work two jobs to support myself, and to augment the income I have lost by picking a job w/health insurance. I CANNOT afford to go back to paying for my own health insurance.
Do NOT allow Senator Clinton to come into your committes if she doesn't get it that people cannot afford to pay for healthcare and health insurance. Buying one's own health insurance did NOTHING to reduce my cost as a resident of Massachusetts. I do not begrudge the young people who got in on a good deal by qualifying for cheap health insurance in the state of Massachusetts under its current plan. I believe all Americans should have health insurance and quality health care. I do not believe they should be mandated to buy it.

Posted by: nkelly1 | November 19, 2008 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Senator Kennedy,

You, sir, are no Guardian nor Innovator of Health Care REform. Your pettiness in refusing Sen. Hillary Clinton the SubCommittee Chair is despicably vindictive and, in your misogynist universe in which women are doped and left to drown without that famous Kennedy name making a bit of effort to save their life (Mary Jo Kopechne) and then cowardly that same Kennedy playboy hiding from police to avoid charges, and then protecting your nephew from rape charges 25 years later, well, sir, you sure are a tarnished Kennedy.

So, Teddy, it is ironic that you refused to give the SubCommittee Chair to a capable, competent and a thousand times more efficient and compassionate person than your Despicably Infamous Kennedy legacy. Ironic that they would even think of having YOU sir as Chair of anything to do with....Health and wellness. Perhaps Death Sentencing and Rape Appeals, but not health, Teddy!

Teddy boy, redeem yourself and let Sen. Hillary Clinton do the job. And may you find compassion for your horrible contribution to the drowning death of Mary Jo Kopechne in another more forgiving life. For in this life, for us, you're just a Kennedy punk.

Posted by: MSakel | November 19, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I think Senator Clinton should go directly to the root of the problem.
It is deep but just look at the federal prosecution's case in Columbus, Ohio; National Century Financial Enterprises, Inc. (NCFE) the largest 'private fraud case’ in our nation’s history described by federal prosecutors as 'Bigger then Enron"
Oh, those of you in the know, think the largest 'private; fraud case described by federal prosecutors as 'Bigger then Enron" is over? Well, only if the few large publicly traded healthcare companies in our country, (I think they are monopolies, but those are illegal here aren't they?) get their way. However, there is one "ex-executive" left to go to trial. One "ex-executive"? Who is this "ex-executive"?
Maybe Hillary can look into this case and follow the stench. But do you wonder who is this “ex-executive”? And where did he come from? Oh, he came from HCA. You remember Bill Frist's family and friends. Trial is set for December 2008.

Posted by: sasha2008 | November 19, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

"Clinton will lead "a committee working group" on insurance coverage, Kennedy announced, while Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) will oversee a subgroup on prevention and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) is heading up the quality task force."

It's fair to say this is the only factually accurate and reliable sentence in this article. Isn't there a hole somewhere "Ceci Connolly" can crawl back into?

Posted by: zukermand | November 19, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Committee formation, private meetings, hospital Ceo's taking a 10% pay cut, doctor's claiming their malpractice insurance is too high, a huge nursing shortage, HMO's and pharmaceutical companies offering money to those who participate in their plan or prescribe their drugs...Where does it stop? People are dying every day in hospitals who have health insurance. Having or not having health insurance isn't the real issue. There can be committee after committee formed and the participants can sit around and eat lunch week after week trying to come up with new ideas to make things better. Try not to recreate the wheel, it has always been and will continue to be the practice of medicine. Paying a doctor or a facility to practice on me or my family is not an insurance issue. It is a people issue, where there is so much misinformation and deception made available or not made available that even healthcare professionals who speak up about the abuses in the system get black balled. There are laws which govern doctors and facilities, who receive federally funding, to not be able to turn a person away or not provide appropriate and necessary medical care because they don't have health insurance. I applaude the politicians who try to intervene but they don't have any real experience in not having access or not having health insurance or not having the best trained physicians at their disposal. Come down to the people's level who are being affected then form a committee which gives the people a chose to commit or not commit.

Posted by: formerheap | November 19, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Whooooo hooooooooo....YEAAAH! I wrote Kennedy a nasty gram telling him to give Hillary a chance for a sub-committee. Looks like a lot of other folks gave him a piece of their mind too.... it paid off!

She deserves this! Go get 'em Hill. We need Universal Healthcare...and you and Teddy should be at the helm of that ship!

Posted by: ladyesq1 | November 19, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Can someone provide a link (memo to isn't the point of the internet that you provide hyperlinks to support certain statements?) to articles about two claims at the beginning of this post, 1) that HRC tried to leapfrog seniority; and 2) that she wanted to take the lead on healthcare (didn't she want to create a new subcmte. or something?). Thanks.

I've heard about #2 but the idea of trying to leapfrog, that's news to me.

Posted by: Mitch22 | November 18, 2008 10:39 PM | Report abuse


Smarter people than me have booted this issue.

Safe to assume that your dermatologist's insurance company took their cut and THEN made her wait for payment. Ah, the joys of being a service business. I suppose you could offer to pay her in chickens like in the old days.

Now, take two of whatever these are and call me in the morning.

...and we'll be needing you to return that backless gown.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | November 18, 2008 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Dear Saint Edward Kennedy,
I am very sorry you are sick- I don't wish that on anyone. Still it being sick doesn't condone your ethical/moral problems.

Your treatment of HRC is just a part of it. Throwing her a bone does nothing for you in my book. Although you have supported liberal causes, which are dear to my heart, you have always been self-serving, egotistical, and my view, mysogynist (probably a lot of people feel that way seeing how you were involved with your nephews rape case 25 years after you drowned a woman in Martha's Vinyard).

Your support of Barak comes across as an empty attempt to reclaim power within the party from the Clintons, who you cuddled up to when it was convenient. Even as you are not going to be able to drive the healthcare agenda, your refusal to give it to someone with a 30 year history in the issue (including Arkansas work) shows how jealous and vindictive you can be.

I hope you get better-I don't wish illness on anyone. Get better and retire- but another liberal into your senate seat- one who is less concerned with their own appetites and needs.


Posted by: nycLeon | November 18, 2008 8:50 PM | Report abuse

JohnQuimbly- Reality Check!

My Dermatologist refused to accept Insurance. She got tired of wrestling for her Money.
As it was, I could get @ 20 Sarcomas, and/or warts, burned for $100!

Bills? A Doctor PERFORMING a Hernia Operation-@ $800.

For Out-Patient use of an Operating Room for 1.5 hrs.-$3,000!


Difference, cost of UN-Paid Emergency Room Bills, and Tort Lawyers!

Let me Pay my Practitioner Directly, use a tent, and hit me on the Head to get me unconscious!

I'll bring my own Back-less Gown, and tongue depressor!

Then, Bill Foreign Nations, for their National's use of OUR Hospitals!-Or get them second rate Government sponsored treatment-Not Private Practice nobody pays for!

Posted by: SAINT---The | November 18, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse


You can get all the health care you can afford. That's how we ration health care in America.

The list price is stooopidly high and the actual price paid under insurance and HMO deals to health providers is...a well kept secret.

But if you want to pay $15.00 for a tongue depressor be my guest.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | November 18, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Is this an announcement that Clinton will not be S o S. As long as it is not Richard Holbrooke I have no problem. Holbrooke would give me reason to question the appointment.

Posted by: Gator-ron | November 18, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Uhhh, just off the top of my Head;

WHY, can't people just make regular payments DIRECTLY to a Medical Provider such as Seton, and just give Insurance Industry Criminals Pink Slips?

What I want, is affordable TREATMENT, not Loop-Hole Filled Inadequate COVERAGE!

Posted by: SAINT---The | November 18, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

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