Clinton Files: Advisers pushed ‘Health Care University,’ crafted ‘enemies’ list

Members of the Clinton administration were so vigorous about their push for health care reform in 1993 that they pushed the idea of launching a “Health Care University” – and even circulated an “enemies” list of those who opposed the overhaul.

The details were included in the latest batch of Clinton administration documents released Friday by the National Archives. Included in the 7,500 pages were two curious documents from 1993.

One, from White House adviser Mike Lux to then-first lady Hillary Clinton and others, broke down into six categories various associations – based on how supportive they were of the health care overhaul effort. The final category, titled “enemies,” was reserved for those who “would rather blow up reform than lose on the issues most important to them.”

This included: the National Restaurant Association; the National Federation of Independent Businesses; and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association.

This was part of an elaborate effort to strategize over who could be won over in the battle for health care legislation. As part of that effort, a June 1993 memo to Hillary Clinton also discussed the idea of forming a “Health Care University.”

That’s what they termed a series of study halls they could hold with members of Congress, after concerns were raised that many lawmakers had a “limited education” on the issue.

The memo said the idea was initially floated by lawmakers but could have “great potential” to address the administration’s goals and ensure a “consistent” message on the issue.

The memo said “classes” should be open to Republican and Democratic lawmakers, but not be a substitute for individual detailed consultations.

“If we do not do this, they are likely to view these … forums as an insulting gesture. This would not sit well and would be unwise,” the memo from adviser Chris Jennings to Clinton explained.

The memo also noted a worried Democratic Sen. David Pryor from Arkansas who “repeatedly emphasized the need to have designated (and Administration-educated) advocates situated throughout the country to serve as credible ‘talking heads’ to combat the predictable organized opposition that the Administration and nervous Congresspersons face.”

His son, Mark Pryor, now holds that same Senate seat, and is facing a tough re-election due, in part, to his vote for ObamaCare and how the national Democratic agenda is playing in his home state.