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Sen. Clinton outlines health care reform package


WASHINGTON--Vowing that she has learned important lessons from her attempt as first lady to craft and win passage of health care reform legislation, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., on Thursday unveiled a broad, multipoint health care reform package.

Speaking at George Washington University in Washington, Sen. Clinton--who is seeking to be the Democratic Party's 2008 candidate for the presidency--said that under her plan, health insurers would be required to provide preventive services, such as cancer screenings and immunizations, as a condition of doing business with the federal government.

Additionally, Sen. Clinton said she also would end what she described as insurance company "cherry-picking" by allowing anyone who wants to join a health care plan to do so and barring health insurers from imposing higher rates on those with medical problems.

She also said she would, if elected, make it easier for drug manufacturers to offer generic products and back limited medical malpractice reform. For example, physicians and hospitals that disclose errors to patients and offer to negotiate settlements would receive greater liability protections, she said.

The only way to pass comprehensive reform legislation, Sen. Clinton acknowledged, is to develop a consensus.

"We can't achieve reform without the participation and commitment of health care providers, employers, employees and other citizens," she said.

As director of a task force launched in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton, Sen. Clinton was roundly criticized for producing a reform package that was developed without input from outside groups.

The package later collapsed, and Sen. Clinton said she still bears the scars from her last reform effort.