Daschle Will Play Hardball on Health Reform

Incoming HHS Secretary will avoid Hillary's pitfalls

By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 15, 2008 11:01 AM CST

(Newser) – Tom Daschle, Barack Obama's incoming Director of Health and Human Services, has an aggressive strategy for reforming health care, and no intentions of seeing it fizzle the way the Clintons' efforts did in 1993, reports the Los Angeles Times. The key will be reeling in major health-care interest groups, along with members of Congress, and forcefully heading off the kind of opposition campaign that scared voters last time around. 

One of the missteps in Hillary Clinton's reform efforts was freezing out key groups, including physicians and members of Congress. Daschle has a specific plan in mind—including a new federal agency to set guidelines on treatments—but on this issue the politics may be more crucial than the vision. To assuage voter worries, Obama has promised that Americans can keep any health coverage they're happy with.

President-elect Barack Obama stands with Health and Human Services Secretary-designate, former Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle, at a news conference in Chicago, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Former Sen. Tom Daschle saw the failed attempts at health care reform in the early Clinton years, and has a plan for avoiding similar pitfalls.   (AP Photo/Meet The Press, Alex Wong)
In 1993, Hillary Clinton waged a campaign for a new health care bill, but some parties felt shut out by the process, and the effort foundered.   (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
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We cannot assume that the public recognizes the distortions and fallacies peddled by the reform opponents; we have to educate people on the emptiness of the anti-reform rhetoric. - Tom Daschle, in his recent book, "Critical"

There clearly is an openness to listen. Fifteen years ago, physicians felt excluded.
- Nancy Nielsen, President of the American Medical Association, on Tom Daschle's approach so far to health care reform

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