The Past Is Prologue: Reviewing The 1994 Opposition To Health Care Reform

newtdole.jpgAs progressives prepare to push for universally available, affordable, quality health care, it is worth examining the nature of the opposition to the last major push for health care reform in 1994.

A new memo from the Center for American Progress Action Fund catalogs and analyzes the tactics of the 1994 opposition, in anticipation that those individuals and organizations opposed to reform will employ many of the same methods this time around.

Read the full memo here.

In 1994, the opposition to reform generally used three tactics:

Fear-mongering: Conservatives of all stripes argued that health care reform would “limit freedom” and was “creeping socialism” or “big government.”

Denial: Members of Congress and activists opposed to reform denied that there was a health care crisis or argued that it was the wrong time to address health care.

Pushing false reforms: Industry and special-interest groups opposed to reform co-opted the term “reform” to push their own agendas and dilute support for a comprehensive solution to the nation’s health care crisis.

Today, the opposition is using these tactics already:

–Karl Rove, fear-mongering in a Wall Street Journal Editorial, calls comprehensive health care reform “extreme.”

–Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), in a November 2008 op-ed in the Washington Times, says that comprehensive health care reform would “nationalize health care,” “limit freedom,” and put “bureaucrats in charge of health care decision-making.”

–Health care pundits argue that the spiraling deficit and economic downturn means comprehensive health care reform should be postponed or curtailed. Robert Reischauer of the Urban Institute recently noted that the fiscal situation would make health care reform “difficult if not impossible.”

–America’s Health Insurance Plan, the re-branded Health Insurance Association of America who ran the notorious “Harry and Louise” ads in 1994, releases a plan that embraced an individual mandate and “reform,” but continues to fight for letting insurance companies price discriminate based on age, sex, or health status. As Igor Volsky explains, “the plan calls on the government to ensure affordability, while protecting industry profits.”

Expect much, much more to come.