Hillary & Bill & Harry & Louise

In the last month there’s been talk about the Clinton health care agenda of the early 1990s. Republican presidential candidates have called the effort “socialist” and Hillary Clinton herself has talked about the need to stand up to the insurance companies. The piece I wrote, below, published in the Nation magazine in their Dec. 13, 1993 issue, basically debunks these myths.

“I know you’ve all seen the ads. You know, the kind of homey kitchen ads where you’ve got the couple sitting there talking about how the President’s plan is going to take away choice and the President’s plan is going to narrow options, and then that sort of heartfelt sigh by that woman at the end, ‘There must be a better way’ — you know, you’ve seen that, right?

“What you don’t get told in the ad is that it is paid for by insurance companies. … It is time for you and for every American to stand up and say to the insurance industry: ‘Enough is enough, we want our health care system back!’ ”

What Hillary Rodham Clinton was referring to in a recent speech was a series of soap opera-style TV ads featuring a woeful couple, “Harry and Louise,” and sponsored by the Health Insurance Association of America (H.I.A.A.). The First Lady positioned herself as a foe of big business; the media played right along.

Tom Brokaw introduced NBC’s segment saying, “Hillary Rodham Clinton today launched a scathing attack on the health insurance industry.” Correspondent Andrea Mitchell, working on the basis of anonymous sources, suggested that the Administration went after H.I.A.A. because “the White House wanted a scapegoat.” On CNN reporters relayed that the Administration is “engaged in something close to an all-out war with the health insurance industry,” and that “the White House would rather talk about insurance industry profits than the rosy assumptions on which its own plan is based.”

A closer look, however, reveals a different sort of deceit on the part of the Administration, the TV networks and Senator Edward Kennedy, who joined in the First Lady’s pseudo-populism, asking the H.I.A.A. to “drop the ads and come work with us” on the Clinton health plan. That plan, in fact, serves the interests of the insurance establishment. As Patrick Woodall of Public Citizen says, “The managed competition-style plan the Clintons have chosen virtually guarantees that the five largest health insurance companies — Aetna, Prudential, Met Life, Cigna and The Travelers — will run the show in the health care system.”

These big companies helped develop Clinton’s plan of managed competition, and all but The Tavelers paid for much of the research that was done by the Jackson Hole Group, an organization that drew up the original blueprint for managed competition. (The Administration tries to obscure this; in rebuttal to the H.I.A.A.’s ads, the Democratic party made a commercial saying of the Clinton plan: “The insurance companies may not like it, but the President didn’t design it for them-he designed it for you.”)

Robert Dreyfuss of Physicians for a National Health Program says, “The Clintons are getting away with murder by portraying themselves as opponents of the insurance industry. It’s only the small fry that oppose their plan. Under any managed competition scheme, the small ones will be pushed out of the market very quickly.”

Indeed, the H.I.A.A. is made up mostly of small and medium-sized insurers. The five biggest insurers have formed their own organization, the Alliance for Managed Competition, which basically backs the Clinton approach. These big insurers stand to gain from the Clinton plan’s increased corporatization of health care since they have been rapidly buying H.M.O.s, 45 percent of which are now owned by the eight largest insurance companies. The outlays for advertisements by the big insurers and the H.M.0.s dwarf the moneys being spent on advocacy ads by the H.I.A.A. and either the Democratic or Republican Party.

The compelling question, then, is not who’s behind “Harry and Louise” but who’s behind Bill and Hillary?

SAM HUSSEINI’s writings are at www.husseini.org .



More articles by:

Sam Husseini is founder of the website VotePact.org

January 29, 2020
Jefferson Morley
Weakest Link: Impeachment and National Security
Peter Lackowski
Venezuela, January 2020: Hardship and Resistance
Kenneth Surin
BoJo Johnson’s Brexit Fantasies
Ron Jacobs
The Swamp That Trump Built
Scott Corey
A Different Impeachment
Peter Cohen
How to Survive this Election
Manuel García, Jr.
Mutually Assured Madness: Immunity to the 25th Amendment
John Kendall Hawkins
Soviet Hippies: The Grass is Greener on the Other Side
Chandra Muzaffar
The International Court of Justice and the Rohingyas
John Grant
Iran is Not Responsible for US Deaths in Iraq
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The World Demands Us Out of the Middle East
Shawn Fremstad
Marital-Status Discrimination Reduces Fertility in China
Lawrence Wittner
Could the Climate Crisis be “The Good News of Damnation”?
Tom Engelhardt
The Fate of the Earth (See Page Five)
Myles Hoenig
Why the Green Party isn’t the Problem
January 28, 2020
Patrick Cockburn
China’s Coronavirus Outbreak Reminds Me of the Irish Polio Epidemic I Survived
P. Sainath
Making Rebellion Attractive: Why the Establishment Still Hates John Reed
Geoff Dutton
Where Was Rudy Giuliani When Democrats Needed Him?
Sam Pizzigati
The Evolution of “Davos Man” into . . . Trump Fan!
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Truth a Major Casualty of Impeachment Hearings
Michael Welton
Autobiographical Roots of Habermas’ Thought
Greta Anderson
Remove the Livestock, Not the Wolves
Nick Pemberton
Sorry Chomsky and Friends, The Green Party isn’t the Problem
Jack Rasmus
Trump’s Feeble Phase 1 China-US Trade Deal
Mike Garrity – Jason Christensen
Natural Gas Pipeline Corridor Threatens Imperiled Species and Inventoried Roadless Areas
Daniel Falcone
Make America Radical Again: A Conversation with Harvey J. Kaye
Binoy Kampmark
Split Hearings: the Assange Extradition Case Drags On
Eric Toussaint
Greece: a Chronology From January 25, 2015 to 2019
Nino Pagliccia
An Open Letter to Justin Trudeau on Venezuela
Robert Hunziker
Reflections of a Scientific Humanist
Jeffrey St. Clair
Who Cares If It Leaks? An Afternoon at Hollyhock House
January 27, 2020
Peter Harrison
Adani and the Purpose of Education
Dean Baker
Can Manufacturing Workers Take Many More of Trump’s Trade “Victories”?
Robert Fisk
Trump in Davos: US isolationism is Reaching Its Final Narcissistic Chapter
Ariel Dorfman
The Challenge for Chile and the World
Victor Grossman
The Misuses of Antisemitism in the UK and the USA
Thomas Knapp
Bernie Sanders, Joe Rogan, Human Rights Campaign, and Truth in Advertising
Fred Gardner
NewsGuard Can Save You From Putin!
Lawrence Wittner
A Historian Reflects on the Return of Fascism
Rose Miriam Elizalde
Cuba: a Matter of Principle
Bob Topper
The Better Moral Creed
George Wuerthner
Giving Cover to the Abuses of Big Ag
Christopher Packham
This is Really Happening
Negin Owliaei
Americans Need to Hear More From Iranians, Here’s Where to Start
Ted Rall
Corporate Crap That Doesn’t Kill Bernie