By Susan Milligan, Globe Staff
Senator Edward M. Kennedy has tapped a former Massachusetts legislator and prominent health care activist to be his chief adviser on health reform, a move Kennedy's office said was aimed at developing a universal health care plan after the presidential election.
John McDonough, a former state House member, was a key player in crafting Massachusetts's mandatory health insurance plan. But McDonough said he will not necessarily advocate such a plan for the nation as a whole.
Senator Hillary Clinton has proposed a federal plan that includes a requirement that Americans purchase health insurance, a mandate she says is necessary to ensuring universal care and lowering healthcare costs. McDonough's new boss has endorsed Clinton's rival, Senator Barack Obama, whose healthcare plan focuses more on affordability. McDonough said the Bay State plan he helped develop may not be a blueprint for the whole country.
"There's a lot of [the Massachusetts law] that is applicable to other states and worthy of federal consideration. There is an awful lot that is not. I would make no assumptions about what is portable and what is not,'' McDonough said in an interview today.
McDonough, who teaches at the Harvard School of Public Health, is stepping down as executive director of Health Care for All, a citizens' health advocacy group. He said he was thrilled to become a staffer for Kennedy, with whom he has worked on children's health insurance and other issues.
"I feel like I'm being recruited for the 2004 Red Sox. I feel honored to be part of his team,'' McDonough said.
Kennedy staffers said the Massachusetts senator believes that either Clinton or Obama will win the White House in November, giving Democrats a rare chance to pass a universal healthcare plan that has eluded advocates for decades. Clinton as first lady pushed a healthcare reform proposal, but it was shot down in 1993 by the GOP-controlled Congress.
Democrats are expected to retain control of both chambers of Congress after the elections, and Kennedy staffers believe either Obama or Clinton would be able to push through some kind of health care reform.
"John is one of the most experienced and respected health care experts in the country and Iím delighted that heís joining us,'' Kennedy said in a statement. "Quality, affordable health care for all Americans is one of the central challenges of our time and Iím confident that John will make an enormous difference to that cause.''
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|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
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