First Lady Highlights Benefits of Health Reform for Children
WASHINGTON--As she launched the Administration's drive to sell its health-care-reform proposal by testifying before several Congressional committees last week, Hillary Rodham Clinton emphasized the need to provide all Americans--particularly young ones--with high-quality, affordable care.
"On an emotional level, it's the most important thing to me because you can't look into a sick child's eyes ... and not care,'' the First Lady told the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee.
In testimony punctuated by anecdotes about people bankrupted by medical bills and forced to make tragic choices about their health, Mrs. Clinton said: "No stories have moved me more than the stories of parents who have given up everything to take care of their children.''
She promised members of the committee and the many reporters who were crowded into the marble-walled Senate Caucus Room that the Administration's plan would address the families' plight.
Mrs. Clinton was greeted on Capitol Hill with accolades from both Republicans and Democrats for her work as one of the primary architects of the health-care plan President Clinton presented to a joint session of Congress late last month. (See Education Week, Sept. 29, 1993.)
During her five hours of testimony before the Senate Labor Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee, Mrs. Clinton fielded questions on Medicaid, tobacco taxes, and abortion.
She also testified before the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.
Mrs. Clinton emphasized that the standard benefits package the plan would guarantee for all Americans includes expanded services for children. Primary and preventive care, well-child care, and vaccinations would "begin to reverse the neglect of children'' under the current health-care system, she said.
Many health plans fail to cover the full range of vaccinations and do not cover enough routine pediatric visits, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has endorsed the Administration's proposal.
Broaching what is likely to be one of the most contentious issues as the Clinton proposal moves through Congress, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., asked Mrs. Clinton how she would guarantee that abortion coverage would be included in health plans.
"We don't want to add or subtract from what exists now, in terms of abortion,'' Mrs. Clinton said.
"Pregnancy-related services,'' which are part of the plan's standard benefits package, include abortion, she said. But family-planning services are equally important because they prevent the need for abortion, she added.
Mrs. Clinton also discussed the Administration's proposal to expand the network of services to rural communities by setting up links with urban health centers.
The First Lady is expected to testify at hearings on specific aspects of the health-care plan in coming months. The Administration will deliver a more detailed, final version to Congress within two weeks, she said last week.