Vital Signs

Hillary's Dirty Little Secret About Health Care Reform

Ira C. Magaziner, the Rhode Island business consultant turned senior White House advisor to President Clinton, has been in the news again recently as the administration's Internet man—defending Mr. Clinton's view that the Web doesn't need government policing. But Mr. Magaziner is best known as the aide in charge of the effort to create a national health care system five years ago. It was Mr. Magaziner who assembled the hundreds of people who met behind closed doors to help President and Mrs. Clinton write a national health care bill in 1993 and 1994.

Today that failure is remembered mostly as an embarrassment for the Clintons and the source of a legal judgment on the status of the First Lady —that she is the functional equivalent of a federal employee. But to Kent Masterson Brown, the Danville, Kentucky, lawyer hired to sue the White House to open up the secret health care meetings, the most interesting aspect of the case was the role of some large foundations—the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in particular—which acted behind the scenes to shape the Clintons' reform efforts. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent and continue to be spent, he said, to bring national health care and a single-payer system to the United States—and not always through open debate in state or national legislatures, but in more roundabout and less visible wavs.

If Franklin...

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