The Clinton-Chafee Connection

Marc Ambinder notes that the Obama campaign is accusing Hillary Clinton of opposing an individual mandate in the 1990s.

What Clinton opposed was an a la carte mandate proposed by John Chafee, one that would have scrapped the entire employer based system in favor of a government mandate that everyone purchase insurance — without a government guarantee of help to those who couldn’t afford it.

Indeed, the plan had little in the way of subsidies for those who couldn’t afford it — they’d be covered, for the time being, under existing government programs. Chafee’s plan was premised on the idea that only with a large enough pool of premiums from young, healthy people could the insurance industry contain costs and offer basic insurance products at a lower rate.

Which is to say, Obama’s charge is misleading and basically false. This is particularly amusing because Laurie Rubiner is one of Clinton’s key policy aides. And Laurie Rubiner … developed Chafee’s health care plan.

Before joining New America, Rubiner worked in a number of key policy and advocacy roles — but it was her work for the late Senator John Chafee (R-RI) where she conceived under the Senator’s name and at his direction a health care plan that would maintain private sector deployment of health care services as the backbone of America’s health system, avoid the single payer debate that divides that policy community, and be universal.

Granted, it’s possible that Senator Clinton opposed mandates at the time and has embraced them belatedly, but, as Marc points out, her plan did contain a mandate.

So this was a minor misstep.