Will Obama's Health Care Push Be More Successful Than Clinton's?

President Clinton attempted health care reform in 1993, but costs kept rising.

ByABC News
September 8, 2009, 3:14 PM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2009— -- It's not an anniversary that officials of the Obama White House particularly care to invoke, but 16 years ago this month then-President Bill Clinton addressed a joint session of Congress to make his health-care reform pitch.

As President Obama prepares to do the same thing today in a nationally televised speech in prime time, there is a consensus that health care costs are unsustainable and must be changed, but plenty of disagreements about how to fix the system.

Watch this story and more on the President's health care address tonight on World News with Charles Gibson on ABC News

Clinton may have been unsuccessful in his bid for health-care reform, but many of his dire predictions about what would happen without that reform have come true.

In his 1993 address, Clinton put Florida small business owner Kerry Kennedy front and center in the debate over what rising health-care costs were doing to small business owners across the nation.

"[Kennedy has] poured his heart and soul, his sweat and blood into that business for years," the then-president said. "But over the last several years, again like most small business owners, he's seen his health care premiums skyrocket, even in years when no claims were made."

Clinton said that in 1992, Kennedy "painfully discovered he could no longer afford to provide coverage for all his workers because his insurance company told him that two of his workers had become high risks because of their advanced age. The problem was that those two people were his mother and father, the people who founded the business and still worked in the store."

Watch President Obama's address to Congress and the GOP response on ABC News Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. ET.

Kennedy's "story speaks for millions of others, and from them we have learned a powerful truth: We have to preserve and strengthen what is right with the health care system, but we have got to fix what is wrong with it," Clinton said.