Throwback to 1993? What's New About Democrats' Health Care Plans

Obama has promised he will not sign a bill that adds to the deficit. The president has insisted, without outlining a specific cost proposal, that any bill that will come to him should be one that implements administrative cost cuts and unnecessary tests and services -- also a component of the Clinton plan. Democrats have echoed the same point, but Republican critics say lawmakers still need to identify ways to pay for the plan, that could cost taxpayers billions of dollars over the next few decades.

Other Components

One of the few elements of health care reform all Democrats and most Republicans agree on, and one that was included in Clinton's plan, is that insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. At the same time, Obama wants to focus more on preventative care and electronic records in doctors' offices to reduce long-term expenses to the nation's health care infrastructure.

One component in the current health care debate, that GOP leaders say has been ignored by their Democratic counterparts, is malpractice reform. Obama has said there is a need to review reforms in this arena. The Clintons proposed to limit lawyers' fee to discourage unnecessary lawsuits and suggested the parties use dispute mediators before taking cases to court.

Overall, experts say the regulatory strategy that Bill and Hillary Clinton adopted in their health care reform plan is not present in the new proposals. Rather, there is a push toward building on and improving the existing system. At the same time, the approach is more aggressive.

"We are seeing an enormously effective coordinated effort in the House to get this done," Feder said. "A very big difference is that they have become very invested it. ... In the Clinton administration, a year was spent drafting a 1,400-page bill that landed in Congress and they didn't take well to that. This time, Congress has taken the lead, particularly in the House."

Yet, the charges that are being leveled -- that the Democrats' plan entails a government takeover and that Obama's plan rations care -- are reminiscent of 1993 when the Clintons lost their reform push.

The fate of health care reform remains to be seen as debates and discussions continue in Congress over what components should be included. The president has provided some clarity in what he wants to see in the bill he signs, but at the same time, many thorny issues remain unresolved.

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