Health Care Reform Update

September 28, 1993

HEARINGS -- First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton can expect tough questions today as she begins several days of testimony before congressional committees about the health care reform plan. It won't be the first time a first lady has taken an administration's case to Congress -- Eleanor Roosevelt spoke against racial discrimination in the District of Columbia and Rosalynn Carter answered questions on her chief interest, access to mental health care. But this is the first time the first lady is the principal architect and presidential adviser on the issue. She'll appear before five committees and speak without a written text.

SENIORS -- The American Association of Retired Persons says it "will not support or oppose this [Clinton] plan blindly" but will hold meetings throughout the country to find out what members think.

THE $91 BILLION QUESTION -- Some economists are scoffing at the numbers in President Clinton's health plan, questioning whether he can really cover everybody while drastically slowing medical inflation and cutting $91 billion from the federal deficit. Martin Feldstein, a conservative Harvard economist, believes the plan actually would drive up the deficit by $120 billion in 1997 alone. Even former Clinton health adviser Stuart Altman, a Brandeis University economist, raises a question: "It's not that the numbers are wrong. It's whether you believe you can get those savings as quickly as their model suggests. Most people are very suspicious that you just won't be able to get those savings that fast. And if you'd try, you'd cause all kinds of havoc."

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