Hillary Clinton will head health-care reform panel Panel composed of Cabinet members to recommend legislation

January 26, 1993|By Boston Globe

WASHINGTON -- President Clinton has begun his drive to reform the nation's health care system in earnest, appointing his wife as the head of a national health care task force slated to submit its recommendations to Congress in 100 days.

The appointment of Hillary Rodham Clinton, 45, as chairwoman of the President's Task Force on National Health Reform grants her the most prominent policy-making position a president's wife has ever held. She will not receive a salary for her work.

The move also promises her the role of overseeing one of her husband's most challenging campaign pledges, trimming burgeoning health care costs while also providing health care for the United States' roughly 36 million uninsured citizens.

In making his announcement yesterday, Mr. Clinton said he expected his wife to "be sharing some of the heat" he expects his health care reforms to spark.

The task force will be composed of most of the Cabinet, including the secretary of health and human services, as well as senior White House staff.

"We are under presidential order to get a proposal ready in 100 days, and we are going to aim to do that," added the secretary of health and human services, Donna Shalala, speaking to reporters after the announcement. "We are simply committed to cost control and access."

The announcement came at the end of a week of controversy over who would head the administration's health care overhaul. Infighting has been reported among aides to Clinton, who differ sharply in their visions of how best to contain costs and provide access to health care.

In his announcement, Clinton did not expand on his health care reform plan, saying only that while he expected "short-term costs," in the long term he believed health care could be provided for all without driving up the deficit.

Still unclear is how the Clinton administration intends to garner savings from the $95 billion annual growth in health spending expected until the end of the century. Without such savings, there will not be the funds to provide access for the nation's uninsured unless taxes are raised.

In recent meetings, the Clintons have been told by top advisers that to provide universal health coverage during his administration will require spending an estimated $270 billion from 1994 to 1998.

One administration official, present at yesterday's first task force meeting, said Clinton remains committed to managed care -- a system by which health maintenance organizations keep costs RTC down by competing for patients. Under a managed care system, individuals could choose between competing health plans, and purchasing cooperatives would be established to negotiate favorable insurance benefits for their members.

Medicaid, Medicare and long-term care for the elderly would all be incorporated in the Clinton health care reform plan, the official said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.