Mrs. Clinton to keep fighting on health care ELECTION 1994

November 11, 1994|By Knight-Ridder News Service

WASHINGTON -- Forget those recent reports that Hillary Rodham Clinton is going to lower her controversial profile following the beating she and her husband took on health care reform.

"Hillary will remain the primary administration spokesman" for Version Two of the Clinton health-care plan next year, according to Robert Rubin, who is in charge of drafting a new reform proposal.

Ira Magaziner will be back, too, Mr. Rubin told reporters at a Thursday breakfast. Mr. Magaziner was the architect of President Clinton's original health care plan, widely disparaged as a hopelessly complicated exercise in mega-government.

"I think Ira's gotten a bad rap," Mr. Rubin said. "Ira's going to be integrally involved" in drafting a new plan, he stressed.

Mrs. Clinton herself laughed off reports that she intends to drop out of future policy debates and act more like a traditional first lady.

"No, no they've never been right; it gives me a good laugh every time I read it," Mrs. Clinton said in an interview with England's British Broadcasting Corp., excerpts of which were released yesterday. "I will be involved in doing what I can on those issues that I have both an interest in and an expertise and that the president asks me to work on.

"Those are issues that I have a traditional interest in: education issues, family issues, health care," Mrs. Clinton said, according to Reuters.

Mr. Rubin heads Mr. Clinton's National Economic Council, which the White House chief of staff, Leon E. Panetta, has directed to draft a revised reform plan. Carol Rasco, head of the Domestic Policy Council, is to co-chair the effort.

Public disgust with Mr. Clinton's health care proposals helped fuel the voters' turnover of Congress to Republicans on Tuesday, Mr. Rubin conceded, but he argued that the public's perception of Mr. Magaziner's grand plan was incorrect, the result of distortions by anti-reform lobbies.

Mr. Rubin said everyone in the White House knew the Republican takeover of Congress means that any health care reform proposals would have to be quite modest to stand a chance of enactment.

Whatever health care reforms emerge from the House will be written in the Ways and Means Committee, whose incoming chairman -- Rep. Bill Archer, a Texas Republican -- outlined yesterday what might be acceptable.

"We'll definitely be doing health care on a targeted basis to correct things that can be corrected," Mr. Archer said in an interview.

Mr. Archer said reforms acceptable to him would include modest insurance changes to assure that people with pre-existing medical conditions cannot be barred from access to private insurance; a portability guarantee to let people take health insurance from job to job; legal limits on medical malpractice awards; and a new system guaranteeing small businesses access to private group insurance.

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