Mrs. Clinton, in W.Va., gives TV preview of health reform plan


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a televised preview last night of the health care campaign she heads, assuring West Virginians with an array of health insurance problems that their concerns will be met when the Clinton administration unveils its proposals next month.

In a statewide town meeting conducted by satellite, Mrs. Clinton and one of the state's Democratic senators, John D. Rockefeller IV, quizzed a number of carefully selected West Virginians who typified the problems of the uninsured, of small businesses struggling to afford insurance, and of hospitals and other providers trying to give care without reimbursement.

The theme that ran through the one-hour program, which was broadcast statewide and in parts of Pennsylvania and Kentucky, was that a crisis exists in the status quo and what Mrs. Clinton described as the "cost of doing nothing, of throwing up our hands, and saying, 'Gosh, I don't think we can tackle something that complex.' "

Mrs. Clinton, who heads the task force on health care, did not address the costs of the changes thought to be favored by her planners or the various tax increases that are expected to be necessary.

The session, which was opened by Mr. Rockefeller, was organized by West Virginia University, on whose campus it was held.

Despite the lack of fireworks, the session gave a glimpse of Mrs. Clinton's early sales pitch for a plan still in development. When the head of a small business talked of the difficulties in providing health insurance for his workers, Mrs. Clinton launched into an impassioned explanation of the concept at the heart of the Clinton plan, the health insurance purchasing cooperative.

"You'll be part of great big pools to buy insurance, and you'll get all the breaks and all the discounts that the big guys are entitled to," Mrs. Clinton told the businessman. "And people will not be denied insurance coverage because of their age or their pre-existing conditions. They'll be eligible for reasonably-priced insurance because they're Americans."

At another point, Mrs. Clinton vowed that the Clinton plan would "streamline reimbursement, eliminate all these forms." She also promised that the administration would "measure everything we propose against the standard, what does it mean for patient care."

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