Hillary’s Dirty LittlernSecret About HealthrnCare Reformrnby Katherine DaltonrnIra C. Magaziner, the Rhode Islandrnbusiness consultant turned seniorrnWhite House advisor to President Clinton,rnhas been in the news again recentlyrnas the administration’s Internet man —rndefending Mr. Clinton’s view that thernWeb doesn’t need government policing.rnBut Mr. Magaziner is best known as thernaide in charge of the effort to create a nationalrnhealth care system five years ago.rnIt was Mr. Magaziner who assembled thernhundreds of people who met behindrnclosed doors to help President and Mrs.rnClinton write a national health care billrnin 1993 and 1994.rnToday that failure is rememberedrnmostly as an embarrassment for the Clintonsrnand the source of a legal judgmentrnon the status of the First Lady —thatrnshe is the functional equivalent of a federalrnemployee. But to Kent MastersonrnBrown, the Danville, Kentucky, lawyerrnhired to sue the White House to open uprnthe secret health care meetings, the mostrninteresting aspect of the case was the rolernof some large foundations —the RobertrnWood Johnson Foundation, in particularrn—which acted behind the scenes tornshape the Clintons’ reform efforts. Hundredsrnof millions of dollars have beenrnspent and continue to be spent, he said,rnto bring national health care and a single-rnpayer system to the United States—rnand not always through open debate inrnstate or national legislatures, but in morernroundabout and less visible wavs.rnIf Franklin Delano Roosevelt couldrnmarshal in the New Deal in a hundredrndays, surely the Clinton administrationrncould revolutionize health care at thernsame forced march—or so Mr. Clintonrnthought, when in Januarv’ 1993 he establishedrnthe President’s Task Force on NationalrnHealth Care Reform. His statedrngoal was to introduce, pass, and implementrnnational health care legislation byrnMay of that year.rnWith Eleanor Roosevelt perhaps alsornin mind, Mr. Clinton named his wife tornlead the 12-member task force, whichrnwas otherwise made up of cabinet membersrnand other high-level federal employees.rnPutting his wife in an executive rolernwas not the only contioversial part of thernPresident’s plan. From the beginning,rnthe Clintons decided that the work ofrndrafting the proposed health care reformrnbill would be done in secret.rnThe press reported that this work wasrnbeing done not just by Mrs. Clinton’srnsmall task force, whose members werernknown, but by an uncounted number ofrnworking groups, made up of hundreds ofrnpeople the White House refused tornname. The secrecy was necessary, saidrnthen-White House communicationsrndirector George Stephanopoulos, becausernwithout it these people “wouldrnbecome subject to lobbying, to enormousrnpressure, and would not be able torndo the work they have to do in a short periodrnof time.”rnOn February 28, a doctors’ group andrntwo public policy organizations filed arnlawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washingtonrnto open these meetings to thernpublic. On behalf of the Association ofrnAmerican Physicians and Surgeons ofrnTucson (AAPS), the National Legal andrnPolicy Center of D.C., and the AmericanrnCouncil for Health Care Reform, alsornof D.C., a team led by Kent MastersonrnBrown asked that both the task forcernmeetings and working group meetingsrnbe made public under the Federal AdvisoryrnCommittee Act of 1972 (FACA)rnand related statutes. Under FACA, arncommittee’s meetings must be open tornthe public if they meet tvvo criteria; peoplernwho are not federal employees sit onrnthe committee, and the committee’s purposernis to make recommendations to thernPresident or a principal secretary. Mr.rnBrown’s argument was that both criteriarnwere met: that the President had expresslyrnformed the task force and workingrngroups to make a recommendation, andrnthat Mrs. Clinton, who became First Ladyrnthrough marriage, was not a full-timernofficer or employee of the government.rnDuring the first round of the case, arguedrnon March 5, 1993, before JudgernRoyce Lamberth, the Justice Departmentrnmaintained Mrs. Clinton was thernequivalent of a federal employee. Furthermore,rnIra Magaziner swore an affidavitrnthat all of the many unnamed peoplernparticipating in the working groupsrnwere federal employees. This was important,rnbecause if they were governmentrnemployees, then the meetings didrnnot fall under FACA’s jurisdiction andrncould stay closed.rnBasing his decision on Mr. Magaziner’srnaffidavit. Judge Lamberth agreedrnthat the working group meetings couldrnbe private (since only “federal employees”rnwere included). He also found thatrnMrs. Clinton was a private person andrnnot a federal equivalent—and that’s whatrnmade headlines. The decision did notrnstand long, however. The White Housernquickly appealed it, and a three-memberrnappeals court neatly reversed Lamberthrnin June 1993. Mrs. Clinton, it said, wasrnindeed a “de facto officer or employee”rnof the federal government, so the 12-rnmember task force meetings could stayrnclosed.rnThe working groups were anotherrnquestion, however. Press reports aboutrnhundreds of people drafting a bill in therndark cast doubt on Mr. Magaziner’s affidavit,rnand so the three judges orderedrnthat Mr. Brown and his clients should bernable to use discovery to investigaternwhether these groups were indeed madernup of only federal employees. It tookrnanother ruling for Mr. Brown to get hisrndocuments; in November 1993, JudgernLamberth found the White House inrncontempt and ordered it to produce thernrequired papers.rnAs Mr. Brown explained in an interview,rnthese papers showed that aboutrn1500 people had been involved in thesernworking groups. (The government saysrnonly 630 people were involved.) Eachrn”cluster,” said Mr. Brown, had “multiplernworking groups, all of which had namesrnand numbers. These people would meetrnregularly in those working groups, andrnthen Magaziner would set up ‘tollgates’rnfor all of them to come to Washington tornmeet as an entire interdepartmentalrnworking group.rn”We were then able to identify fromrnthose records things about every one ofrnthose people. We found of the 1500,rnwell over half were private people, notrnfederal employees at all, either full-timernor special government employees —rnthey received no pay, nothing. Theyrnmay have received some travel but werncouldn’t tell because we weren’t givenrnenough records. We were never able torndiscern how their travel was paid. Somernhad reimbursement forms but most werngot nothing on. We got very few conflictrnof interest of forms. The ones we did get,rnmost of them appeared to be back-dated,rnmost were incomplete, [filled out] probablyrn[within] a month or two of the request;rndates were whited out, they werernphony.”rnThough the working groups had dis-rn46/CHRONICLESrnrnrn