New Kennedy tape shows frustration with Clintons, health bid
WASHINGTON — Some 15 years had passed since Bill and Hillary Clinton’s health care legislation failed when Senator Edward M. Kennedy sat for a 2008 oral history interview, but his frustration over the couple’s handling of the measure seemed to anger him as much as ever.
“I think everybody understands now that that was a catastrophic mistake,” Kennedy told a historian from the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, according to transcripts released this week.
“Was there any consultation about this strategy with people in the Congress?” interviewer James Sterling Young asked.
“No,” Kennedy replied.
It will be no surprise to Kennedy watchers that the Massachusetts Democrat was upset with the way the Clintons launched their failed effort to pass health care legislation in the early 1990s or that Kennedy was perturbed that he — the longtime champion of such a bill — was kept out of the loop. But his words are bound to revive a memory that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was given authority over the health care proposal by her husband, might prefer be long forgotten.
Kennedy’s lament about the Clintons is among thousands of pages of transcripts of oral history given by Kennedy and 170 people who interacted with him at crucial periods. The transcripts are to be released Wednesdayjointly by the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston. The institute provided Kennedy’s interview about health care issues to the Globe as a preview of the release.
A more complete set of Kennedy’s 19 interviews and those given by others is slated to be posted online Wednesday, giving the public a fresh chance to review the senator’s career.
Clinton expected to break with Obama on healthcare ‘Cadillac’ tax
By Sarah Ferris - 09/21/15
Hillary Clinton will seek to align herself with ObamaCare’s successes and use it to attack the GOP on Tuesday as she begins to map out her long-awaited healthcare agenda.
The effort could also lead to a public break with the Obama administration on healthcare for the first time.After months of delivering nothing but praise for ObamaCare, presidential candidate Clinton is expected to weigh in — and oppose — one of the law's most controversial taxes: The “Cadillac tax."
If she joins her 2016 Democratic rivals in calling for the repeal of the tax on generous healthcare plans, she will distance herself from most ObamaCare supporters but also unlock important endorsements from unions that staunchly oppose it.
Clinton will drop the first details of her healthcare plan during a campaign event in Iowa on Tuesday, part of a two-day, three-state tour. Her speech will come weeks after hinting earlier this summer that she has concerns with the tax.
“Hillary Clinton believes protecting, defending and improving the Affordable Care Act is a top issue for this campaign, so she plans to highlight its benefits and go on offense against Republicans for their never-ending push to repeal,” a campaign official told The Hill on Monday.
Looking beyond the law’s current scope, she will also target the rising costs of prescription drugs and out-of-pocket healthcare costs — two policy areas that were largely left out of the Affordable Care Act. Rising costs have become a rallying cry of Clinton’s Democratic rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who recently introduced legislation targeting the “skyrocketing” costs of drugs.
Sanders, as well as presidential hopeful, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, have both come out in opposition of the Cadillac tax, putting pressure on Clinton to do the same or risk losing big-dollar union support.
The Democratic threat to Obamacare
by Charles Lane
Who says there’s no bipartisan consensus in the United States? Based on their campaign promises so far, if any of the leading contenders for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations actually wins in November 2016, Obamacare as we know it is doomed.
The Republicans, of course, pledge to repeal the whole thing. The Democrats, by contrast, merely want to hollow it out, by removing a crucial systemic reform, the absence of which will make the Affordable Care Act less able to meet its twin goals of curbing costs and expanding coverage.
Specifically, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has just joined her main rivals, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, in calling for the repeal of Obamacare’s excise tax of 40 percent of the value of employer-paid health insurance plans that exceeds $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families; the tax takes effect in 2018.
Health-care economists universally praised this feature of Obamacare because it attacked the wasteful and regressive tax exclusion for employer-paid health plans, a $250 billion-plus annual item, 35 percent of which accrues to the top 20 percent of the income distribution scale.
Reducing the value of that tax break would help slow health-care cost growth, because it encourages many employers to pay employees not higher wages but generous “Cadillac benefits,” prompting the recipients, in turn, to overutilize medical care.
As it happens, the mere anticipation of the tax has already caused employers to right-size their benefits packages, just as Obamacare’s authors intended. This is one reason, among many, that health-care cost growth has remained moderate even as health reform has brought millions of new consumers onto the insurance rolls.
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