Rick Perry Praised Hillary Clinton on Health Reform in ’93, Lobbied for Provisions

Aug 30, 2011 4:40pm

Texas Governor Rick Perry consistently rails against President Obama’s healthcare plan and has criticized Mitt Romney for implementing a similar plan in Massachusetts, but in 1993, he praised Hillary Clinton’s work to reform healthcare, which served as a model for Obama’s reform efforts.

“I think your efforts in trying to reform the nation’s health care system are most commendable,” Perry wrote to Clinton in the letter obtained by the Daily Caller.

When he wrote the letter, Perry served the state of Texas as Agriculture Commissioner, and he asked Clinton to take the needs of the rural Americans into consideration.

“I would like to request that the task force give particular consideration to the needs of the nation’s farmers, ranchers, and agriculture workers, and other members of rural communities,” Perry wrote. “Rural populations have a high proportion of uninsured people, rising health care costs, and often experience lack of services.”

“Again, your efforts are worthy,” Perry wrote,”and I hope you will remember this constituency as the task force progresses.”

In a radio interview today, the Texas governor defended his 1993 letter to Hillary Clinton, but Perry said he was merely trying to voice the interests of rural Americans and never imagined Clinton’s plan would be a precursor for President Obama’s healthcare plan.

“I didn’t want them collectively to overlook a very important constituency,” Perry said on the Sean Hannity radio show today. “I had no idea that was going to be the end product. What I thought they were truly going to work towards was trying to reform healthcare, and we had no idea, and then now we’ve got Obamacare.”

Perry, who grew up in the rural town of Paint Creek, Texas and whose own father-in-law was a rural doctor, has worked to attract doctors to practice in rural areas.  He has signed legislation which enhanced physician loan reimbursement programs to entice physicians to under served areas.

An adviser to Perry’s campaign told the Daily Caller Perry did not know the scope of Clinton’s plan when he wrote the letter.

“You need to read the letter,” Dave Carney, Perry’s top political strategist, told the Daily Caller.  “He praised her efforts in trying to tackle the issue and urged her not to overlook rural Americans. The letter was at the onset of her efforts before she proposed anything. No one could have imagined the horrible monstrosity she cooked up, in fact not to be outdone until ObamaCare years later.”

Clinton’s final plan called for a universal healthcare system and mandated employers purchase insurance for their employees.

The 1993 letter first emerged during the 2005 governor’s election when Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s campaign used it as propaganda against the Texas governor.

In his book, “Fed Up!” Perry labeled President Obama’s healthcare plan as the “closest this country has ever come to outright socialism” and a commitment to repeal the plan is a recurrent theme in his campaign speeches.

“Obamacare mandates that the American people must go out and buy government-approved health insurance in a private market. I defy anyone to show me the clause in the Constitution that gives Washington the authority to do this,” Perry wrote in his book. “It is a total outrage that the federal government would tell an American citizen hat he must buy anything from anyone but especially something that concerns his health and the health of his family.”

Last week, Perry called Massachusetts healthcare plan  a “huge problem” for former Gov. Mitt Romney.

“I think Mitt is finally recognizing that the Massachusetts healthcare plan that he passed is a huge problem for him, and yeah it was not almost perfect,” Perry said on the Laura Ingraham Show last Thursday.

To reform the current healthcare system, Perry’s campaign says he would work with Congress to repeal President Obama’s healthcare plan and then essentially start over on a new system. He would back a system to foster an economic environment favorable to employers looking to create more jobs, would remove federal mandates on states, and would promote innovation in the healthcare sector.

“The top concern among American families, businesses, and patients is the skyrocketing cost of health care,” Perry spokesman Mark Miner said. “The most effective way to lower those costs is through the proven, market-based strategies of transparency, choice, and competition.  States should be given the flexibility and the incentives to enact insurance reforms that foster competition, to design solutions for patients with pre-existing conditions, to lower costs for small businesses and to implement common-sense changes such as medical liability reform.”

This post has been updated.

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