President Barack Obama did indeed learn lessons from President Bill Clinton's abortive attempt at healthcare reform in 1993. However, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were not the first Democratic presidents to stress the importance of improving healthcare since World War II.
President Harry Truman tried to introduce healthcare for all in 1945. He met strong opposition, especially from the American Medical Association (AMA). Truman saw his plan as a continuation and expansion of the New Deal, but it did not even make it to a vote. Critics accused Truman of trying to bring "socialized medicine" to the United States. Interestingly, more than sixty years later, Obama's critics accused him of trying to do the same thing.
In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson honored Truman by signing Medicare into law in Truman's presence at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. Truman was enrolled as the program's first beneficiary. Johnson's Medicare and Medicaid programs were the most important changes in healthcare during the second half of the twentieth century.
Bill Clinton campaigned on a platform of healthcare reform and became president in 1993. He delegated healthcare reform to his wife, Hillary Clinton. She was put in charge of the Task Force on National Health Care Reform. The AMA opposed Clinton's plan, too. Clinton's Health Security Act failed badly.
In 2000, the World Health Organization issued a report that ranked healthcare in the US "37 out of 191 countries." This report was controversial in the US because of its criticism of America's healthcare system. Experts have largely accepted the WHO's findings, however.
Like Clinton before him, Obama was determined to fix America's broken healthcare system. Obama had his aides study Clinton's failure in order to avoid repeating his predecessor's mistakes. Clinton also had a stronger electoral mandate. (Clinton had won only 43 percent of the popular vote.) Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) became law in 2010 after a long and hard fight. The AMA supported the PPACA. The main benefit was insurance coverage for millions who had been without it. Despite Obama's efforts to compromise, all Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against the measure. A decade after the passage of Obamacare, America's healthcare system remains extremely inefficient and dreadfully expensive.