'Her Way'

Obama Health Plan Could Go In Clinton's Direction


June 26, 2008—

No policy proposal more sharply divided Barack Obama from Hillary Clinton than the former first lady's plan requiring adults to purchase health insurance.

But as the one-time rivals head to Unity, N.H., on Friday, a health adviser to the presumptive Democratic nominee is signaling that Obama's plan could eventually go in Clinton's direction.

"Senator Obama is willing to consider any sort of proposal that would bring together, not just the insurance industry but . . . the consumers themselves," said Obama adviser Dr. Kavita Patel.

Obama's surrogate made her comments Wednesday while representing him at a National Journal health-policy forum moderated by Ron Brownstein, the political director of Atlantic Media.

Patel's individual mandate remarks were made in response to an insurance industry leader suggesting at the same forum that insurers will oppose Obama's plan as currently structured. Insurers are worried that the Illinois Democrat has not tied an individual mandate to "guaranteed issue," the industry's term for requiring patients to be covered without regard to pre-existing conditions.

"We've had the conversation about . . . guaranteed issue," said Karen Ignagni, the president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans. "But we are prepared to have that conversation in the insurance industry if the politicians are ready to stand up and say we are going to get everyone in."

Ignagni's words are watched closely because the organization she heads emerged from the Health Insurance Association of America, sponsors of the "Harry and Louise" ads which played a critical role in killing Clinton's effort to reform health-care in the 1990s

Asked if Obama would be seen as reversing himself if he were to endorse an individual mandate after clashing with Clinton on the issue, Patel dismissed the concern.

"He has not said he is opposed to it," Patel told ABC News. "He has voiced his disagreement with having that be a part of his health-care plan last year. But he is not opposed to the idea itself." Patel added that the Obama campaign is in touch with former Clinton health-care advisers.

Although Ignagni praised Patel as being "very thoughtful" in her openness to an individual mandate, a compromise between Obama and the insurance industry may still prove elusive.

Richard Kirsch, the head of "Health Care for America Now," told ABC News in a separate interview that the liberal coalition he leads will be hard pressed to go along with an individual mandate unless the insurance industry accepts guaranteed issue and no variations in premiums on the basis of age, gender, or pre-existing conditions.

"We're not going to get the kind of change we need by playing footsie with the industry," said Kirsch. If they are going to change their tune, great. But I think they are only going to change their tune if they are forced to do it."

The kicker:

"Looks to me that the D.C. handgun ban overshot the runway."

--Barack Obama to Bloomberg TV following Thursday's Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller

On the campaign front. . .


-- 12:00 pm ET: Attends rally with Sen. Hillary Clinton, Unity, NH.

As for the Republicans. . .


-- 10:30 am ET: Tours the General Motors assembly plant, Warren, OH.

-- 10:45 am ET: Attends town hall meeting, Warren, OH.

-- 11:30 am ET: Hosts media availability, Warren, OH.

At the White House. . .


-- At Camp David with no public schedule.


-- 8:30 am ET: Commerce Department releases the May report for personal income.


ABC News' Teddy Davis and Alexa Ainsworth: Obama Camp Disavows Last Year's 'Inartful' Statement on D.C. Gun Law LINK

ABC News' Teddy Davis, Alexa Ainsworth, and Gregory Wallace: Obama Mum on Chicago Gun Ban LINK

ABC News' Jan Crawford Greenburg: Obama, Guns and Self-Defense LINK

ABC News' Arianne de Vogue: Supreme Court Shoots Down D.C. Gun Ban LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper and Avery Miller: Is Clinton-Obama Unity Just a Town in N.H.? LINK

ABC News' Jonann Brady: Controversial Priest Returns to the Pulpit LINK

ABC News' San Donaldson: Sam Backs Court's Gun Ruling LINK

ABC News' Dean Norland and Jennifer Parker: Clinton, Obama Begin Democratic Unity Dance LINK

ABC News' Rick Klein: Obama's Careful Gunplay LINK

ABC News' Tahman Bradley and Bret Hovell: Schwarzenegger Slams Offshore Drilling 'Politicians' LINK

ABC News' Bret Hovell and James Gerber: Following Court Ruling, McCain Slams Obama for 'Series of Reversals' LINK

ABC News' John Santucci: Clinton Calls on Nurses to Back Obama LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Lieberman on His Private Chat with Obama, Rev. Wright, and How McCain is Picking Up the Gore-Lieberman Foreign Policy Mantle LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: McCain Meets with Wary Ohio Conservatives LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Obama Eager to Distance Self from Campaign's Former Position on DC Handgun Ban LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Obama Embraces Supreme Court Decision as "Well-Needed Guidance" LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Where Has Obama Been on the Unconstitutional DC Handgun Ban? LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Big Bad John's Big Bad Video LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Quinnipiac: Obama Ahead in Four Key Battlegrounds LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Obama Distances Self from Middle Initial? LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Is Unity Just a Town in New Hampshire? LINK

ABC News' Gary Langer: Guns and the Court LINK


Second Amendment Upheld

The Supreme Court overturns the D.C. gun ban in a 5-4 ruling. LINK

Obama Eager to Clarify Gun Law Position

Obama distances himself from the campaign's former position on the handgun ban. LINK

McCain Knocks Obama on Gun Position

Sen. McCain says he's "pleased" with the Supreme Court's gun law decision. LINK

Americans Have the Right to Own Guns

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, supports the right to own guns. LINK

Sam Agrees with High Court Decision

Sam Donaldson discusses the court's decision to preserve gun ownership rights. LINK

Kimmel: Donate to the Hillary Fund

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Kimmel: Would You Vote for a Black Man?

Jimmy gets a black man to pose this question to white voters. LINK

Bush on N. Korea: A Moment of Opportunity

The president announces plans to remove it from U.S. terror list. LINK

Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela

The former South African president celebrates his 90th year. LINK

Clinton Seeks to Unite Dems

Hillary Clinton urges her supporters to back Barack Obama for president. LINK

Obama Finds the Light

The Democratic candidate reaches out to the evangelical youth. LINK

A Step Toward Diplomacy

North Korea has turned over key documents that reveal atomic capabilities. LINK

Right to Bear Arms

Supreme Court rules on Washington's hand-gun ban. LINK

Supreme Court Debate Gun Control

The court will announce a major ruling on the gun ban in Washington, D.C. LINK

Clinton-Mocking Pastor Speaks

The Rev. Michael Pfleger discusses his Hillary Clinton-bashing sermon. LINK

The Mayor and the Artist

Michael Bloomberg and Olafur Elia discuss New York's waterfalls. LINK