My Personal Beef With Hillary Clinton

My Personal Beef With Hillary Clinton

For starters, it's my blog. You'll notice there's no place for you to respond. That's not by accident.

Once upon a time my brother and I owned a software company making products for the average doctor's office. It was 1978 and for those of you who can remember, this was before the Internet.

It took us a long time to build it - with endless hours of commitment, enormous risk of capital and labor and lots of innovative solutions to problems the rest of the technology world didn't even know they had. Software was not in fashion. More often than not people looked at me cross-eyed when I tried to tell them what I did. [1]

By the time Bill Clinton got elected, we:

  • had over 3,000 installations of our product - a huge number at the time
  • won multiple national awards
  • employed 45 people - some of whom had been with us for 14 years
  • trafficked over 20,000 health insurance claims every night
  • connected to over 100 insurance company mainframes in all but a couple of states to deliver those claims
  • had offices in PA, FL and Indiana
  • had an extensive national dealer network
  • were nicely profitable and growing

About one third of our roughly $3.5 million annual revenue came from the sales of software products and the remaining revenue came from electronic claims trafficking services, software update and support services and customer training.

For those of you who are too young to remember, Bill Clinton promised to overhaul the nation's healthcare system as part of his 1992 election campaign.

When Bill formed the Task Force on National Health Care Reform, he appointed Hillary to run it. Rumors abound about how that actually happened and the resistance to an underqualified, unelected individual being appointed to run such an enormous project.

From the Wikipedia article on the Clinton health care plan of 1993

The First Lady's role in the secret proceedings of the Health Care Task Force also sparked litigation in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in relation to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) which requires openness in government. The Clinton White House argued that the Recommendation Clause in Article II of the U.S. Constitution would make it unconstitutional to apply the procedural requirements of FACA to Mrs. Clinton's participation in the meetings of the Task Force. Some constitutional experts argued to the court that such a legal theory was not supported by the text, history, or structure of the Constitution.[15] Ultimately, Hillary Clinton won the litigation in June 1993, when the D.C. Circuit ruled narrowly that the First Lady of the United States could be deemed a government official (and not a mere private citizen) for the purpose of not having to comply with the procedural requirements of FACA.[16][17]

Also in February 1993, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, along with several other groups, filed a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and Donna Shalala over closed-door meetings related to the health care plan. The AAPS sued to gain access to the list of members of the task force. In 1997, Judge Royce C. Lamberth found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded $285,864 to the AAPS for legal costs; Lamberth also harshly criticized the Clinton administration and Clinton aide Ira Magaziner in his ruling.[18] Subsequently, a federal appeals court overturned in 1999 the award and the initial findings on the basis that Magaziner and the administration had not acted in bad faith.[19]

And several things happened:

  1. The Clintons announced they were going to change healthcare in 100 days
  2. For the next few months they literally "trial ballooned" in the headlines whatever they were thinking at the moment

Actually a lot of things happened, but what as a practical matter here's the effect it had on us.

Item 1 had the effect of every potential buyer electing to pause their purchase process. Imagine if the government hinted that they might require everyone to ride busses in the next 4 to 6 months. Would you buy a car? Nope.

Item 2 simply emphasized the extent to which they didn't know what they were doing. With each increasingly strange proposal getting coverage in the newspapers, doctors were selling their practices to hospitals, doctors were buying small surgical centers and so on. No one wanted to get caught standing still when the final plan unfolded. A physician could lose everything. Many did anyway. Some of our customers went back to business school.

And so the entire physician market became a deer in the headlights of a self appointed architect of their future. And for us $100,000 a month worth of software sales revenue went to zero. In sixty days. That's all it took to unravel 14 years of work. Scared the public so badly they stopped buying anything.

We wanted to keep our sales staff. They were like family but they couldn't live on zero commissions. Accommodations were made. Black ink turned to red.

Within another 90 days, most of our dealer network had moved on. Resellers lived hand to mouth and for them no solution could come fast enough.

After a year or so, sales came back to about 10% of their original numbers, but the damage was done. After giving a speech in Washington about electronic medical payments, an M&A guy from a large company in the audience approached me about selling the company. My brother and I were tired and the amateurs in the White House were so illogical we weren't sure where any of it would end.

We split the company into two pieces so that it could be sold. I am proud of the fact that we found every single employee a job, but the large companies that tried to absorb our staff and customers did a poor job of it and most everyone moved on at some point.

We made money when it was all done; and on paper it looked like a successful venture. Had it lasted a couple more years we would have been positioned very well for the dot com explosion. And if you remember that, you'll remember that enormous sums of money went chasing after hair brained ideas on the back of envelopes by people who hadn't done squat. What we had was real customers, a great and stable staff, good products and real profits.

Imagine the hubris of these lawyers to think they could successfully rewrite the rules for the fourth largest industry in America in 100 days.

Imagine trial ballooning half-thought-through ideas in the media as proposed by secret committees run by lawyers with no background in healthcare. Imagine having to sue them to get them to tell us what they're doing.

This was just willful obstruction of the process.

To be sure, if I needed to "take one for the team" and sacrifice my company to improve healthcare in our country, I'd do it. But what came of all this?

Not a single thing. Healthcare didn't change one whit. The way they ran things, reform never had a chance.

Private citizen running a government task force? Secret meetings so she doesn't have to disclose anything? And now? Private email servers? Donations to the Clinton foundation from countries she's working with as Secretary of State? The pattern is clear and it's been going on for 23 years. Hillary simply doesn't believe the rules apply to her. To be fair, neither does her husband but that show is over.

And since she's never run anything but a campaign, never had to make a payroll, she can't fathom how irresponsible it is to float rash statements to the media for publicity points while there is real collateral damage for others. The ends justify the means and the end in this case is political capital, not progress.

I've got personal scars from Hillary in charge of something she wasn't qualified to do.

Imagine Hillary as president.

  1. To be honest, they still do. ↩︎