Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dr. Sanjay Gupta asks Bill Clinton why the United States needs health care reform

Bill Clinton was interviewed last night on Larry King by guest host Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Dr. Gupta was picking Clinton's brain about his take on Obama's plan for healthcare and other health issues in general.

It was interesting, Gupta started the segment off by stating three facts: that in 1993, over 90% of Americans wanted a fundamental change in America's healthcare system or a complete rebuild, that he served as an adviser in the Clinton administration to then First Lady Hillary Clinton, and that he, until withdrawing his name, was under consideration to be Surgeon General under the new Obama Administration.

He then began the interview asking Bill straight up why if 90% of Americans wanted change in their healthcare in 1993, he couldn't get it done:

CLINTON: Well, I think, first, we had a couple of problems that don't exist today. At the time -- let's review the bidding. At the time, we had about 14 or 15 percent uninsured. Today it's more than 16 percent. We had a lot of people underinsured, but there are probably more than 30 million underinsured today -- a huge underinsured problem.

We were spending 14 percent or our income on health care. And nobody else -- none of our major competitors were more than 10. Now we're at 16.5 and none of our competitors are over 11, except for Switzerland, which has an unusually old population. They're at 12.

So all of the problems are worse.

Secondly, they really -- both -- in the presidential campaign good ideas came out. And both Senator Obama and Hillary came out with this idea that you could achieve universal or near universal coverage without an employer mandate if you subsidized individuals and small businesses and gave them the option of buying into the federal employee health insurance plan, which is a bunch of private plans, as you know -- assuming there was no other available option.

So when I did it, we had very -- we had budgetary constrictions. We couldn't raise taxes. We just raised taxes and cut spending to balance the budget. And therefore our only option was to have an employer mandate. That put the small business lobby in with the health insurance companies. And together that, plus the unified Republican opposition in the Senate, was enough to beat it.

Now, you've got the small business community wanting something new. The physicians were divided last time. They're united in believing we need reform. And a number of the health insurance companies have said they are willing to move toward universal coverage. So I think that the consensus is overwhelming. You don't have the problems in the Senate that you had last time, although there is still the theoretical possibility of a filibuster.

So I think the politics and the economics are much better now. And the policies are better. These -- the policies that came out of the Democratic primary process this time are, I think, refined. They've made advances over where we were. So I feel good about all of that.

I still think the big test now is going to be how do we do more to bring costs in line with our competitors and improve health care?

We've got to do more primary prevention. That's why I spent so much time on the obesity issue, because I think that if we don't change the delivery system, then we'll cover everybody for a while, but we'll be up to 18 or 19 percent of our income on health care and eventually we won't be able to afford it.

Gupta, of course, asked about any possibility of Hillary playing a role in Obama's heathcare reform:

GUPTA: Obviously, Secretary Clinton -- now Secretary Clinton -- has a full plate. She has a lot of tasks in front of her. But she had a pivotal role in the early '90s and knows that, as you just stated, better than just about anybody. Should she be used in some way when it comes to health care reform?

CLINTON: I don't know if she can be. She's pretty busy now. But, you know, she's interested in it. We both keep up with it. And I I'll bet you she and the president will have some personal conversations about it.

But the one thing -- the other thing that I didn't mention was she and I have been criticized for presenting a bill to the Congress. And President Obama is going to use the secretary of Health & Human Services, Governor Sebelius, to negotiate with Congress and let them do the bill. That is clearly the better way to do it.

But everybody has forgotten that we offered to let Congress write the bill and we offered Senator Dole the chance to do a bipartisan bill. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee at that time, Senator -- Congressman Rostenkowski, insisted that we present a bill, because he said that Congress was so unfamiliar with all the details, they could do better amending our bill than coming up with a bill on their own. So we did that because the Congress insisted on it, the leadership did.

I think now you have a much higher level of literacy in the Senate and the House and in both parties than you did when we tried before. Because people have been coming to grips with this and we've made a lot of progress. You know, we did the Children's Health Insurance Program and all that.

So, you know, if she -- she may have some insights on this. But the playing field they're on and the number of members of Congress who know enough about this to be really constructive players is much, much better. And she's pretty busy.

So if he asked her, I'm sure she'd love to talk about it. We talk about it a lot. We care about it. But they'll do fine.

GUPTA: You and Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Yes. We talk about it a lot. But I think they're going to do fine.

And this was a nice little conversation. They started talking about Bill's health:
GUPTA: I have to ask you, how are you feeling? I was there outside the hospital when you had your heart surgery. Are you back 100 percent?

CLINTON: I think so. It's interesting, in some ways, I'm stronger than I was before my surgery. And by conventional measures, I'm healthier. I've still got about ten pounds to lose that I gained in the campaign last year, working for Hillary. But otherwise I think I'm fine. The one thing I notice -- and my balance is better, when I'm doing balance drills. But the one thing I notice and what a friend of mine referred to as raw country strength, I don't know if I've recovered. Like, I can't hit a golf ball as far, even though I can lift more weight.

GUPTA: How far are you hitting a golf ball?

CLINTON: Not as far as I want to. I rarely hit 300 yards. I used to do it all the time. It could just be aging, but I think the surgery kind of discombobulated my internal coordination a bit. And I've just got to keep working on it. I've been working too hard for the last year and a half or so to do more than just maintain my weight and maintain my level of fitness. I think if I did a few different things, I could maybe get it back.

GUPTA: One thing I notice when I was talking to you -- we talked about this before -- when you point with your finger --

CLINTON: Sometimes it shakes. See it's a little shake, no shake here. I've been tested for it. I don't have Parkinson's.

GUPTA: Don't have it.

CLINTON: The doctor told me as people age, they become more vulnerable, for example, to having these muscles. Like if I write a lot.

Or play video games or, you know, just do anything like that, anything with a lot of my fingers, and these tighten up, or if I'm tired, if I'm working hard, it will cause your hands to shake. So see that's pretty calm today, a little bit of shake, none over here. And some days they both shake, some days none of them do. And I was quite concerned about it, because if I had Parkinson's, I wanted to know, so I could prepare.

I had it tested and the doctor says, no, it's just a normal aging phenomenon.

Read the full transcript here or watch the video below:

1 comment:

leigh said...

must contact Dr. Gupta via fax or voice mail.

Must contact President William J. Clinton

re: The 'Lie', ATROCITIES, HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS OF The alleged Canadian 'Universal Healthcare'.

I HAVE BEEN IN HC MYSELF X MANY YEARS - The PRESIDENT MAY BE INTERESTED AS WLD THE AMA..I WRITE W/OUT CURRENT REPRESENTATION HENCE REQUIRE ANNONYMITY. President Obama was blatantly lied to by lame duck Prime Minister Harper during his Feb. visit. See brief press conf. in Ottawa - Min. of Health allocates Hc FUNDS TO EACH PROVINCE.


Leah of Toronto and BC

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