But the memory of the failed health reforms failed to crush Clinton's ambitions for the Senate. During her rough-and-tumble campaign for the seat, GOP opponents unsuccessfully tried to use that past against her. New York's conservative party ran TV ads that asked, "If you trust Hillary Clinton, maybe you should see your doctor, while you still can."
Was that then, and this now? Joe Karpinski, GOP spokesman for the HELP committee, tells WebMD, "Those are old things. We are sort of like a team at the beginning of the football season. What you did before is statistical. It's out there; it's known. But you are really judged on what you do this year.
"I haven't detected any dread or disparaging words," Karpinski says of the Republican senators on the committee. "After all, the Clintons lost that [healthcare] battle pretty soundly, and there are some historians who would say that that contributed to Republicans taking control of Congress in the 1994 elections."
Grace-Marie Arnett, executive director of the Galen Institute, a free-market research institute, tells WebMD, "A lot of us are watching to see what she does propose and hoping that she begins to move more in a market direction rather than the direction of more and more government."
And Clinton, for her part, says she's changed her approach towards healthcare reform. "I come from the school of smaller steps now. ... Smaller changes, incremental changes that will help some people, are better than walking away and saying there is nothing we can do."
But according to Orient, that means, "You get that opening wedge in, and just drive it in further and further and further."
Clinton is calling for a prescription drug benefit for everyone in Medicare -- a step beyond the low-income-targeted proposal from President Bush. She's also interested in finally passing a federal "patients' bill of rights," and upping enrollment in the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) while permitting parents to be covered under the program.
That's not all. Among other steps, Clinton says she'll push for parity for mental health insurance coverage, protections for individual genetic information, and an early buy-in to Medicare coverage.