"Hillary stood up for universal health care when almost no one else would, and kept standing till 6-million kids had coverage."
Hillary Clinton on Thursday, October 4th, 2007 in a TV ad airing in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Standing up, but not alone
Indeed, the New York senator has a record as an advocate for health care reform. When she was first lady, President Bill Clinton appointed her to head the President's Task Force on National Health Reform. But the group formulated a plan that ended up going down in defeat. It was one of the most significant defeats of President Clinton's first term.
Critics of the Clinton health plan, mostly Republicans, focused on her role and mocked the proposal as Hillary Care. The name has stuck and made a resurgence in the past few weeks since now-candidate Clinton has proposed her own plan.
But did she stand up for universal health care "when almost no one else did"? That's a stretch.
The president obviously also favored it in 1992, but so did every other major Democratic candidate — Jerry Brown, Tom Harkin, Bob Kerrey and Paul Tsongas. It also had support in Congress, though not enough to pass. So we find the "almost no one else" claim to be an exaggeration.
For the second part of the assertion, the Clinton campaign said the "6-million kids" refers to those who would benefit from the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which passed in 1997 and was funded with cigarette taxes. SCHIP provides federal funding to states, which then put up their own money and set rules to provide health care for uninsured children.
Much of the credit for SCHIP usually goes to Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who shepherded the legislation through a Republican-controlled Congress. But the Clinton campaign says she used her influence behind the scenes to push for SCHIP, and there is evidence to support that.
Shortly after the legislation passed, the New York Times reported, "Participants in the campaign for the health bill both on and off Capitol Hill said the first lady had played a crucial behind-the-scenes role in lining up White House support."
We don't dispute that Clinton worked behind the scenes for SCHIP, but the TV ad gives her disproportionate credit for the entire program. We find that the ad overstates her role on this count and also on the broader issue of universal health care. And so we find the claim to be Half True.
Published: Monday, October 8th, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
Subjects: Health Care
Sources:Bill Clinton, Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters on Health Care Reform, Jan. 25, 1993.
The Associated Press, "The Issue: National Health Insurance," Feb. 12, 1992.
Reason magazine, "Healthy disagreement; alternatives to Hillarycare," October 1993.
The Orange County Register editorial page, "Hillarycare Lite," Sept. 22, 1996.
Charles Krauthammer (columnist), the Washington Post, "Clinton's One Big Idea," Jan. 22, 1999.
HR 2015, Section J, State Children's Health Insurance Program, Aug. 5, 1997.
The New York Times, Through Senate Alchemy, Tobacco Is Turned Into Gold for Children's Health , Aug. 11, 1997.
Interview with Dr. Anthony Eksterowicz, co-editor, The Presidential Companion, about the evolution of the role of first lady, and professor of political science, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.
Interview with Leon Panetta, former White House chief of staff, President Bill Clinton.
The Associated Press, Clinton claims credit for child program, Oct. 6, 2007.
We want to hear your suggestions and comments.
For tips or comments on our Obameter and our GOP-Pledge-O-Meter promise databases, please e-mail the Obameter. If you are commenting on a specific promise, please include the wording of the promise.For comments about our Truth-O-Meter or Flip-O-Meter items, please e-mail the Truth-O-Meter. We’re especially interested in seeing any chain e-mails you receive that you would like us to check out. If you send us a comment, we'll assume you don't mind us publishing it unless you tell us otherwise.
Keep up to date with Politifact:
- Sign up for our e-mail (about once a week)
- Put a free PolitiFact widget on your blog or Web page
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on Truth-O-Meter items
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on GOP Pledge-O-Meter items
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on Obameter items
- Advertise on PolitiFact
- Shop the PolitiFact store for T-shirts, hats and other PolitiFact swag