Over the last five weeks, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has featured in her campaign stump speeches the story of a health care horror: an uninsured pregnant woman who lost her baby and died herself after being denied care by an Ohio hospital because she could not come up with a $100 fee.
The woman, Trina Bachtel, did die last August, two weeks after her baby boy was stillborn at O’Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens, Ohio. But hospital administrators said Friday that Ms. Bachtel was under the care of an obstetrics practice affiliated with the hospital, that she was never refused treatment and that she was, in fact, insured.
Former President Bill Clinton boasted recently on the campaign trail that his wife was the only presidential candidate helping to get healthcare costs under control. The Clintons claim that the presidential candidate’s proposed universal plan would cap health insurance premiums at 5 to 10 percent of Americans’ income.
Healthcare reform expert Gracie Marie Turner of the Galen Institute says although adding 47 million more people to the nation’s healthcare system is a laudable goal, the way Senator Clinton (D-New York) is proposing to achieve that objective will not bring down costs.
“The plan that she is proposing would first of all mandate that everyone have health insurance, and she — under pressure from Tim Russert — acknowledged that one of the ways to enforce that may be garnishing people’s wages and really forcing them to pay,” she warns. “But the policy that they would require is a very generous health insurance policy — in some ways, more generous than [the policy] members of Congress receive.”
Turner says the Clintons may be promising they would make sure no one pays more than ten percent of their income in health insurance premiums, but a lot of Americans are scratching their heads as to where that 10 percent would come from in the first place.
The healthcare reform expert also notes that the average price of a family policy offered through the workplace is $12,000 a year. So she argues that to afford that type of coverage under Clinton, one would have to make a yearly wage of $120,000.
The self-professed champion for ‘universal health care’ hasn’t been paying the health care bills for her own employees.
Among the debts reported this month by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s struggling presidential campaign, the $292,000 in unpaid health insurance premiums for her campaign staff stands out.
Clinton, who is being pressured to end her campaign against Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination, has made her plan for universal health care a centerpiece of her agenda.
The campaign provides health insurance to all its employees, their spouses, partners and children — and that wasn’t interrupted by any lag in payments to insurance providers, said Jay Carson, a Clinton campaign spokesman.
He said the campaign this month paid off all outstanding bills to Aetna Healthcare and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. Those payments will be reflected on a report the campaign will file this month with the Federal Election Commission, which Carson said will show “zero debt owed to both vendors.”
“Sometimes invoices are not paid immediately because we need additional information for our records, or to verify expenses,” Carson said in a statement e-mailed to Politico. “Sometimes invoices arrive at the very end of the month at the cutoff of the reporting period, which means that we are required to report them as a debt on the current FEC report, even where they are paid in regular course during the next month.”
But the unpaid bills to Aetna were at least two months old, according to FEC filings.
They show the campaign ended last year owing Aetna more than $213,000 for “employee benefits.”
During the first two months of the year, the campaign did not pay down any of that debt. In fact, it accrued another $16,000 in unpaid bills last month, and it finished the month owing Aetna $229,000.
During a campaign stop Monday night, Hillary Clinton warned a crowd of several thousand supporters that picking a president should be based more on experience than popularity, pointing out that President George W. Bush is a product of voters choosing based a president based on popularity.
“We need to know as specifically as possible what our next president intends to do. We don’t need a leap of faith, we don’t need to have a beer with the next president, we had that president,” she said.
“I’d be happy to have a beer too we can talk about what we’re going to do to solve our problems.”
Clinton, who stayed on message throughout her remarks focused on the economy, health care and education. But she found moments to take jabs at Barack Obama without naming him saying, “I know that contrasts have been drawn often in this campaign between the soaring rhetoric and the speeches. But I have to say there is a difference between speeches and solutions,” said Clinton drawing loud applause from the crowd.
Clinton also attacked Obama on health care pointing out that she is the only candidate who offers a universal health care plan. Clinton said it is “unconstitutional to discriminate against sick people.”
As she often does at these rallys, Clinton asked the crowd who she should “leave out” of her plan, a subtle dig at Obama whose health care plan, she claims, leaves out 15 million people. At one point, someone in the crowd yelled, “Leave out Obama.”
“I’m not going to leave out anybody. I’m not running for president to put Band-Aids on problems,” she responded.
Clinton’s visit to Madison is her last stop in Wisconsin before voters head to the polls today. Clinton’s daughter Chelsea, who joined her at this event, will be campaigning here today while Sen. Clinton heads to Ohio for campaign events in Cleveland and Youngstown.
Since when does the Constitution mention anything about sick people? But you have to remember that Hillary was referring to her aforementioned (failed) experience.