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Former Clinton Advisor: Healthcare Reform Will Pass

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, October 1, 2009

Congress will pass healthcare reform legislation by the end of the year because Democrats fear the consequences that failure may bring, said Paul Begala, CNN commentator and former advisor to President Clinton at the 2009 Society Healthcare Strategy & Marketing Development conference in Orlando on Thursday.

"Democrats used to believe that if they exercised and ate right they'd have a job," he told the standing-room-only crowd. "The single biggest reason the healthcare bill is going to pass is because Democrats have the majority and the fear."

In addition to the Democratic majority on Capitol Hill, Obama has positioned the bill to pass by dividing his opponents and cutting deals with organizations like PhRMA and the AHA, Begala said.

He went on to say that Maine's Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe is the single most important person in the healthcare debate right now.

"Getting even one Republican may be the difference between healthcare and no healthcare," he said.

But he also cautioned that democrats shouldn't let a desire for perfection stand in the way of getting a bill passed—something he said he learned from his years with the Clinton administration.

"Don't let perfect be the enemy of good, don't let good be the enemy of OK, and don't let OK be the enemy of acceptable," he said.

Although President Barack Obama has said he wants a bill passed by Columbus Day, Begala said he believes it will pass closer to Christmas.

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