–Clinton, speech at U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting, June 26, 2016
Clinton repeated this claim about her role in creating the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which we recently rated Two Pinocchios, as it gives a misleading impression of what exactly happened.
Eight million low-income children did receive health care through the program. But it’s questionable that she played a key leadership role to creating CHIP. While Bill Clinton endorsed the idea in his 1997 State of the Union address, he later urged senators to kill a plan backed by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) when it threatened budget negotiations with Republicans.
At the time, Hillary Clinton defended her husband’s action: ”He had to safeguard the overall budget proposal,” Mrs. Clinton said at a luncheon. ”He will look for ways to demand full coverage for minors’ health.”
Weeks later, Kennedy brought back a revised version of CHIP. An August 1997 New York Times article on final passage of the bill reported that “participants in the campaign for the health bill both on and off Capitol Hill said the First Lady had played a crucial behind-the-scenes role in lining up White House support. But Mr. Clinton did not appear to move on the issue until a meeting at the White House on July 22 with an agitated Mr. Kennedy.”
By all accounts, Kennedy and Hatch were the movers of the program. Hillary Clinton was apparently an advocate for their effort behind-the-scenes, including ensuring the budget for the health plan was as large as possible. It’s clear she played a role, but her actual impact on the legislation is disputed.
In a post on Medium published after our fact-check, Kennedy’s former health care staff director David Nexon wrote that Hillary Clinton “was there when it counted.”
The Fact Checker Recidivism Watch tracks politicians who repeat claims that we have previously found to be incorrect or false. These posts are short summaries of previous findings, with links to the original fact-check. We welcome reader suggestions.
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