Jimmy Carter: We Could Have Had Health Care Reform in 1970s

Former Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) may be remembered as a champion of health care reform, but not by Jimmy Carter.

In an interview with CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante, the former president said he doesn't have "any doubt" that Kennedy stood in the way of his administration's plans for national health care insurance.

"I had worked very carefully with the leaders of the five committees," Mr. Carter said. "And they were all cooperating with me. We were writing the legislation for pretty much comprehensive health care."

"We had the full support and intimate involvement of Senator Kennedy and Senator Long, who was also a chairman of a major committee in the Senate and the three chairman of the committees in the House. They were all working with me," Mr. Carter continued.

"At the last minute, the same week we were going to reveal what we have finally come forward to present to the entire Congress and the public, Senator Kennedy decided not to support it," he said.

Watch the video of Mr. Carter on Tuesday's "Washington Unplugged" above to the left.

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In his newest book "White House Diary," Mr. Carter describes Kennedy's withdrawal "a very great disappointment to me" -- and cites it as the reason his health care bill died.

"It could have been a major step forward at that time which unfortunately did not happen," Mr. Carter said on CBSNews.com's "Washington Unplugged."

At the time, Kennedy was campaigning against Mr. Carter for the 1980 Democratic nomination for president.

"He considered himself the inevitable next president and maybe he wanted to have his, I'd say, gold plated comprehensive plan put into effect under his own administration," said Carter. "Or maybe he didn't want me to have a major legislative success."

"Washington Unplugged" airs live daily at 12:30 p.m. ET on CBSNews.com.


Christine Delargy is an associate producer for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. For more of Washington Unplugged, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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