Web Chat! Hillary Discusses Her Health Plan

Hillary was back on the couch tonight, this time for a web chat about her new health care plan. It was the same format as the "conversation" following her announcement to run for president. Casual demeanor, easy questions and direct answers to the camera.

Dressed in a cobalt blue jacket in front of old hardcover books stacked in a wooden shelf, she started with a softball.

The first questioner asked what was different between the new plan and her 1994 proposal, about which the questioner charitably added, "so much is written and overblown."

Hillary then hit on a theme that she and her aides have been pushing relentlessly since the speech on Monday: that the plan gives Americans more flexibility and choice.

"This plan is all about choice," she said, adding "We've got to have lots and lots of choices."

She spoke in a hoarse voice about her so-called "health choices menu plan" and said "this is a big difference from what went before."

When asked how she would get Republicans to go along with the plan, Clinton again distanced herself from the way she went about pushing the plan last time around.

"I think there are a lot of Republicans who are going to be open to a sensible, workable practical plan, like the one that I have outlined," she said.

"Since I have been in the Senate I have demonstrated that I am more than willing to work across party lines."

She said she would not shy away from "big goals in America again," and added "I am a very excited with working with my colleagues in government."

She also said she believed there was more political will for reform now than in her first try.

"I think there are more people today than certainly in the early 90s" she said, who believe we have to change direction in health care.

Another questioner asked if he would be able to choose his own doctor.

"Frank, you get to choose your own doctor if that's what you want," said Clinton, adding that under her plan "the insurance industry will have to change."

She said half of the plan would be paid for by a rolling back of the Bush tax cuts with the other half coming from savings that would result from improvements in health technology and better preventative care.

Some of the questions were fawning. One person wrote in that Hillary would be "superwoman" if she could get American troops out of Iraq and pass health care reform.

Clinton talked about her years in the White House, which she described as prosperous times for America, and talked about the lessons she learned in "93 and 94, both what to do and what not to do." She said that as First Lady, she paid special attention to letters from Gulf War soldiers writing her about "mysterious ailments." She spoke in broad brushstrokes about her plans to reduce drug prices by bargaining with drug companies, getting access to more generics and opening up American markets to foreign drugs researched and produced in America.

Clinton also touched upon more purely political topics. When asked about how she would respond to Swift Boat like attacks she said "I know we have to be prepared to fight back and stand our ground," and, with a trace of a smile, added "I don't believe in attacking my opponents but if someone attacks me I will stand my ground."

AT the end of the chat, she went back to stressing the choice factor of her plan, and that "everyone will be covered." (It will be illegal for anyone not to be covered, and Clinton has so far not articulated what sanctions await the uninsured.) "Because you have all these options, you will be part of a much bigger group of people with more bargaining power to get your health care," she said.


Web Chat! Hillary Discusses Her Health Plan