Clinton on offensive to reform health care: The President demands that Washington end its 'rhetoric and air-filling bull'

FRESH from his bloody but successful political brawl with Congress over his deficit-reducing budget, President Bill Clinton yesterday fired the first shot in a new battle that promises to be every bit as fierce as his last.

In a speech to state governors, Mr Clinton sketched out the groundwork for his much delayed plans to overhaul what he has described as 'topic number one in America', the nation's troubled and expensive health- care system.

He is due to unveil detailed proposals next month to introduce universal health care, launching what is likely to be one of his administration's most critical challenges to date.

In reforming health care, Mr Clinton is tackling the most emotive issue in the United States, where 37 million people have no health cover and many millions more have inadequate insurance policies. The US is spending a record 14 per cent of its gross domestic product on health - 5 percentage points higher than its nearest health- spending rival, Canada, and 6 percentage points more than either Germany or Japan.

Mr Clinton is also entering politically hazardous territory. He is likely to win support from millions of Americans who live in fear of losing their health insurance through illness. His legislation would prevent insurance companies from dumping people when their ailments become too expensive.

But he faces staunch opposition on several fronts. Small businesses are not enthusiastic about the possiblity that they will be required by law to pay a large slice of employees' health insurance. Some states have already begun introducing their own reforms and do not want Mr Clinton to jeopardise them. Many Americans also see his plans as a threat to their right to choose their health care.

Mr Clinton and his team were busy working behind the scenes before he delivered his speech, circulating gloomy predictions about the consequences of failing to act. These forecast that, without reform, health costs per US family will double by the end of the decade, denying workers dollars 655 ( pounds 458) in annual wage increases. They also predicted that some big companies will end up paying dollars 20,000 a year per employee for health care.

In his address to the National Governors' Association in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mr Clinton was, in effect, selling policies crafted by his wife, Hillary Clinton, who is head of a White House task force on health. He described health costs as the 'biggest outstanding culprit' in creating the runaway US federal deficit.

Referring to his struggle early this month to introduce his budget-cutting plan, which passed through Congress by the narrowest margin, Mr Clinton spoke bitterly of the perils of 'partisan bickering' and Washington's 'rhetoric and air-filling bull'. Health reform, he said, was not a matter of party politics but 'an American challenge which we face together'.

But Mr Clinton did not say who will pay for his plans to reform health care. There are mutterings about 'sin taxes' on cigarettes and alcohol, but the picture remains unclear.

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

KS2 Teacher required from October

£90 - £120 per annum: Randstad Education Hull: Key Stage 2 Supply Teacher requ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Computer Futures

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures (an SThree br...

Maths Teacher

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education require a ...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor