Governors Split on Health Care Politics, Worries about Finance Surface at National Conference

By Kathleen Best Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau This article includes information from Post-Dispatch wire services. | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 30, 1994 | Go to article overview

Governors Split on Health Care Politics, Worries about Finance Surface at National Conference


Kathleen Best Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau This article includes information from Post-Dispatch wire services., St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


President Bill Clinton cannot count on his former statehouse colleagues for a unified push for his health-care reform plan, the governors warned Saturday at their winter meeting in Washington.

Clinton, former governor of Arkansas, began courting the governors more than a year ago in an effort to enlist them as allies in his call for massive changes in the health-care system.

But concerns over how the plan will be financed and election-year politics have prevented the governors from reaching an agreement. And though Clinton plans three appearances before the National Governors' Association this week, he is unlikely to change many minds.

"This is getting more and more political," said Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a practicing physician and vice chairman of the association. "The same battles that are going on in Congress are going to go on among the governors."

That rift was underscored during the association's opening news conference, featuring Dean, a Democrat, and the group's chairman, Republican Carroll Campbell, governor of South Carolina.

Campbell said he does not believe there is a national health-care crisis and that Clinton's plan would create a "new bureaucracy" that isn't needed. He also questioned whether Clinton would follow through on his threat to veto health-care legislation that does not guarantee coverage for every American.

"If you draw a line in the sand, a rising tide will generally wipe it out," Campbell said. "If we have a rising tide of consensus on how to get somewhere (on health care), I don't see him taking that position. I see flexibility in that line."

Dean, meanwhile, said coverage for every American was "critical" and praised the president's threat to veto legislation that falls short of that promise. Vermont passed a health-care program that will provide health-care coverage to everyone in that state by Jan. 1, 1995, and is now debating whether to set statewide limits on total health-care spending.

But while differences over crucial details divide the governors, nearly all agreed on one point: Flexibility for the states should be built into any national health-care plan.

"The federal government can do much better if it tries not to say one size fits all," said Colorado Gov. …

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