Kornblut claimed Clinton change in rhetoric on health care plan, but offered no evidence

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

In an entry on The Trail, titled "A Clinton Shift in Selling Health Plan," The Washington Post's Anne Kornblut wrote, "When Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) introduced her health care proposal, she emphasized its centrist nature: a business-friendly model that would allow consumers maximum choice," adding, "But ... Clinton honed in this weekend with a more traditionally liberal aspect of her plan: It would require all people to get health insurance, with a goal of achieving universal health care." In so doing, Kornblut suggested that Clinton's emphasis on the "universal" aspect of her health care plan is new, without offering any evidence to support that suggestion. In fact, when Clinton introduced her plan, she repeatedly referred to the fact that it is "universal" and "covers all Americans." And since introducing it, she has repeatedly stressed its focus on universal coverage.

In a November 25 entry on The Trail, The Washington Post's "daily diary of campaign 2008," titled "A Clinton Shift in Selling Health Plan," staff writer Anne Kornblut asserted, "When Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) introduced her health care proposal, she emphasized its centrist nature: a business-friendly model that would allow consumers maximum choice." She added: "But as the first voting for the 2008 nomination looms, Clinton honed in this weekend with a more traditionally liberal aspect of her plan: It would require all people to get health insurance, with a goal of achieving universal health care." In setting up a purported contrast between Clinton's emphasis when rolling out the plan and her emphasis currently, Kornblut suggested that Clinton did not emphasize the universality of her plan when it was unveiled. However, Kornblut offered no evidence to support her suggestion that Clinton's emphasis on the "universal" aspect of her health care plan is new. In fact, when Clinton introduced her American Health Choices Plan -- subtitled, "Ensuring Quality, Affordable Health Care for All Americans" -- in September, she repeatedly referred to the fact that it is "universal" and "covers all Americans." And since introducing it, she has repeatedly stressed its focus on universal coverage.

Similarly, a summary (it has now been replaced) linking to the post on washingtonpost.com read: "Universal coverage is the new point of emphasis, replacing consumer choice." Similarly, Time magazine's senior political analyst Mark Halperin linked to Kornblut's post on his Time blog, The Page, describing it this way: "WashPost: After unveiling health plan as a centrist proposal, Clinton now stressing traditionally liberal goal of universal coverage."

The first sentence of a September 17 Clinton campaign press release announcing Clinton's health plan read: "Hillary's American Health Choices Plan covers all Americans and improves health care by lowering costs and improving quality." The release went on to note that Clinton's plan offers consumers a choice: "It puts the consumer in the driver's seat by offering more choices and lowering costs. If you're one of the tens of million Americans without coverage or if you don't like the coverage you have, you will have a choice of plans to pick from and that coverage will be affordable. Of course, if you like the plan you have, you can keep it."

Introducing her proposal in a September 17 speech, Clinton also emphasized her health plan's universality, saying that it "provides tax credits to make health care both universal and affordable for everyone." She also stated that "America needs to provide health insurance for all Americans."

Clinton described the plan as "universal" even before it was formally introduced, saying in an August 23 speech, "[N]ext month, I will announce my plan for universal coverage," adding, "My order here is deliberate. In order to forge a consensus on universal health care, we need to assure people they'll get the quality they expect at a price they can afford. And my recommendations to control costs and ensure quality lay the groundwork for insuring everyone." During that speech, Clinton also described the "key components of [her] health care plan," which include, "lowering costs for everyone, improving quality for everyone, and providing coverage for everyone," and said, "I list them as three interlocking goals because I think we cannot do one without doing all of them."

In her remarks at the Iowa Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on November 10, Clinton said: "As first lady, I fought my heart out for health care, and, well ... we might not have been successful that time, but I am so proud that I played a part helping to create the Children's Health Insurance Program and to insure 6 million children." She continued, "When I'm president, we are going to finish the job and provide quality affordable health care for every single American man, woman, and child."

During the November 15 Democratic presidential debate, Clinton again stressed coverage for all Americans, saying, "I have a universal health care plan that covers everyone." Clinton later explained, "I provide a health care tax credit under my American Health Choices Plan so that every American will be able to afford the health care."

Furthermore, in her prior coverage of Clinton's health care proposal, Kornblut has consistently characterized the plan as providing for "universal" coverage. In a September 16 Post article, Kornblut and Post staff writer Dan Balz noted that "Clinton is scheduled to roll out her long-anticipated plan for universal health care in a speech in Des Moines." In a September 18 article reporting on Clinton's announcement -- headlined "Clinton Presents Plan For Universal Coverage" -- Kornblut and Post staff writer Perry Bacon Jr. wrote in their first sentence that Clinton "unveiled a proposal to provide health insurance to all Americans, placing herself at the center of an issue that provided perhaps the greatest setback of her political career." In the next sentence, Kornblut and Bacon asserted that Clinton's proposal "would expand insurance to the 47 million people who do not already have coverage and would attempt to reduce costs for others without spawning a massive new bureaucracy." Contrasting Clinton's plan with Republican proposals that do not provide universal coverage, they wrote: "Republican presidential candidates have offered much more limited ideas for reforming health care, eschewing proposals for universal health care and instead touting changes to the tax code that they say would make it easier for individuals to purchase private insurance but that would not expand coverage dramatically, as the Democrats propose."

In a September 21 entry on The Trail, Kornblut described Clinton's plan as a "health insurance proposal to require coverage for all individuals." In a Post article three days later, Kornblut described the proposal as a "plan for universal health-care coverage." And in a September 27 Post article on the September 25 Democratic debate moderated by NBC's Tim Russert, Kornblut noted that "Russert pressed [Clinton] to explain why she would be a good president after failing to win support for health-care reform during her husband's administration and after voting in 2002 to give President Bush authorization to launch a war that is now deeply unpopular." Kornblut continued: "Clinton defended her efforts to pass health-care reform, saying she had fought a sometimes lonely battle against special-interest forces. But she acknowledged that her new plan for universal care is one crafted from the lessons of that effort."

In an October 10 article, Kornblut and Balz asserted that Clinton's "economic proposals included what she said would be a renewed commitment to fiscal discipline, higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans and programs aimed at easing economic uncertainties among middle-class families. They include housing assistance, making college more affordable and the universal health-care plan she outlined last month."

From the November 25 entry on The Trail:

When Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) introduced her health care proposal, she emphasized its centrist nature: a business-friendly model that would allow consumers maximum choice.

But as the first voting for the 2008 nomination looms, Clinton honed in this weekend with a more traditionally liberal aspect of her plan: It would require all people to get health insurance, with a goal of achieving universal health care.

Posted In
Health Care
Network/Outlet
The Washington Post
Person
Anne Kornblut
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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