"Clinton's campaign, aware of the inevitable attacks, planned a careful rollout of its health-care proposal," the Washington Post writes. "Rather than giving a single speech on health care, she gave two addresses earlier this year on improving health-care quality and reducing costs. Her aides argued that it was particularly important for Clinton to show that her approach to reforming health care would be different this time around and focused on rebutting charges that her plan was not like the 1993 proposal… Clinton's campaign dubbed the new proposal the American Health Choices Plan, and the candidate used the words 'choice' and or 'choose' more than a dozen times in her 45-minute address."
BTW, for all the hand-wringing by the chattering class (including us) about whether health care is a double-edged sword for her, a CBS News poll finds: "Sixty-one percent of those who plan to vote in a Democratic primary express confidence in Clinton's ability to make the right decisions about health care. Forty-two percent say they have confidence in Obama, while 39 percent say they have confidence in Edwards… Registered voters see Clinton's experience with a failed health care proposal as an asset rather than a liability. Sixty-six percent of all voters, and 77 percent on Democratic primary voters, say her past experience will help her to reform health care if she becomes president."
But forget the poll, this positive review from the New York Times' David Brooks is probably the campaign's favorite clip today. "Hillary Clinton's health care plan is a huge step forward from 1993. It's better than the G.O.P. candidates' plans (which don't exist). But there are still complexities in the health care system that no loya jirga, no matter how smart, can fully anticipate and control."
The New York Times notes the new plan has MAJOR differences with the old one. " A variety of health policy analysts, however, said the change between Clinton 1 and Clinton 2 was striking. The first plan, for example, would have required people and employers to join new 'regional alliances' to purchase coverage. It would have tried to control total health spending through a complicated system of managed competition, and would have created a National Health Board with sweeping authority to regulate that system."
The New York Daily News offers a graphic outlining the differences between Hillary '93 and Hillary '07.
How did Clinton win over former health-care critics? Newsweek notes, "Health-care groups say they have been encouraged by her work in the Senate—where she's taken a more restrained and incremental approach. In the '90s she thought she could elbow past members of Congress. But since becoming one herself, she has made a point of joining forces with Republicans on health-care issues. Together they've worked to expand coverage for veterans and children, as well as to modernize the system with electronic, rather than paper, medical records. Her former foes in the industry have taken note… She's made nice with the pharmaceutical industry, too. Big Pharma's lobbyists are constantly engaged with her staff, as they are with other members of Congress."
The Wall Street Journal writes that the Clinton campaign even briefed the GOP-leaning NFIB on the plan. "In a sign that the campaign was working hard to at least nullify opposition from the group, the NFIB was invited to participate in a briefing on the plan with Clinton aides. The outreach is just one in a series of steps Mrs. Clinton is taking toward trying to win over business. For months, she has been meeting with business leaders one-on-one and in small groups to explore health-care issues. Many have come away impressed, including Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Google Inc. 'She was organized; she knew her stuff; she listened carefully; she responded to ideas,' he said."
The Boston Globe has some of the GOP criticism. "Key elements of Hillary Clinton's healthcare proposal are strikingly similar to the tenets of the health overhaul that Mitt Romney signed into law in Massachusetts last year. But you would never guess it from the broadsides he hurled yesterday against what he called 'Hillarycare 2.0' and described as 'a European-style socialized medicine plan.' ... 'Clinton's plan and the Massachusetts law also share a guiding principle: Build on the existing employer-based private healthcare system, instead of replacing it with a government-run system.'"
The Politico has the Clinton campaign's response: "'It's sort of funny to me that [Romney] would cast it as a big government solution, when it's essentially what he enacted in Massachusetts,' Clinton's Senate legislative director, Laurie Rubiner, said in response to Mitt Romney's attack. She added that the Clinton plan is based on 'choice and competition.'"
Per NBC/National Journal's Athena Jones, Clinton told MSNBC's Joe Scarborough this morning: "It is also hard to understand why we can't to a better job in the way we spend the $2 trillion that are in the health-care system. We spend 50% more than anybody else in the world and we don't get the best results and we don't cover everybody. If this were a business you would put it into bankruptcy. You'd say 'This just doesn't add up.'"