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Batten Down the Faxes; Health Care Reform Creates Avalanche of Paper With AM-Health Care

September 23, 1993

Batten Down the Faxes; Health Care Reform Creates Avalanche of Paper With AM-Health Care Rdp, Bjt

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Fax machines all over town kicked into overdrive after President Clinton’s health care address.

Flurries of faxes swelled to blizzard proportions as all kinds of interest groups rushed to put their opinions in writing and get them to journalists. Maybe to the president, too, for good measure.

″This is the biggest thing that’s hit Washington in a very long time,″ said a tired Daniel Selnick, bureau manager for the PR Newswire.

It’s Selnick’s job to transmit statements from businesses and interest groups to the press. And he hasn’t been this busy since the start of the Persian Gulf War.

″The president has, in effect, fired the starting gun,″ said Richard J. Davidson, president of the American Hospital Association. Now it’s a race for every politician, interest group and union to put its stamp on the issue - ″the most important domestic debate of our lifetime,″ according to Lonnie R. Bristow, chairman of the American Medical Association.

The White House on Thursday handed reporters 80 pages of letters praising the health care plan from groups ranging from the Vermont Teddy Bear Co. to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

And those were just the good reviews. The fax lines were humming with opposition, too.

The National Retail Federation predicted that the plan would kill 500,000 retail jobs over five years; Public Citizen, a liberal watchdog group, called it ″a fraud on the American people.″

Most of the politicians, businesses and interest groups rushing to announce their reactions took the middle ground, however.

Their statements began something like this: We applaud the president for tackling health care reform, BUT .... Then they ran down a list of things in the plan they disagree with.

Doctors and hospitals generally said they fear increased regulation and bloated bureaucracy. Drug makers worry about price fixing. Chiropractors don’t want to be left out.

Senior citizen groups don’t want cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. Some businesses are afraid they will have to foot too much of the bill. Other interest groups say the Clinton plan doesn’t go far enough - that it should be a Canadian-style health plan with the government paying all the bills.

There was almost universal praise for some of Clinton’s goals: providing health care for all Americans, simplifying the paperwork, controlling medical costs.

Some folks just want to stop the bickering and get on with it.

″To those who want to block health care reform, those who peck away at it like a thousand ducks, we say, ‘Get out of the way. There are more of us than there are of you,’ ″ said Gerald W. McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

-93 1718EDT

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