I have long had an interest in health policy. But I first became passionate about health care during the epic battle over Clinton Care in 1993 and 1994. I still regard that victory as one of the finest hours for Republicans in Congress. And I take a certain satisfaction in the role a certain chart played in that victory--the chart I created with my staff, depicting the plan's dozens of new bureaucracies. We captioned it: "Simplicity Defined." One of Mrs. Clinton's comments after the defeat of Clinton Care was, "We never overcame the chart."
People don't realize how close we came to passing the Clinton Plan in the summer of 1994. What could have been a catastrophe for America turned out to be a catastrophe for the Democrats. The fact that they proposed it is the biggest reason we took control of Congress that year. Had it passed and become law, I doubt President Clinton would have been reelected two years later.
Winning the majority in 1994 gave us a chance to put our own stamp on health policy, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was the first health legislation we passed. It started out as a modest little bill, claiming to make coverage portable from job to job. It grew to become a whole package of reforms, most of them having nothing to do with portability.
The Unintended Consequences of HIPAA
HIPAA is a classic example of legislative panic. We passed it mostly as a way to make …