Would someone please ask Hillary Clinton to stop coming up with health care "reform" plans that are less attractive than the dysfunctional system she proposes to replace?
The former first lady, who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the 1990s by responding to the demand for a sane and humane system to deliver affordable medical care to all Americans with a plan to drown the ailing in a bureaucracy designed to augment the profits of the nation's largest insurance companies, is back with an equally heavy-handed and unappealing "reform" proposal.
The senator from New York who has emerged as the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination -- based, in no small part, on romantic misrecollections of her last foray into the nation's seemingly-endless health-care debate -- wants to solve the crisis of the uninsured and the under-insured by requiring every American to obtain coverage.
Of course, the ridiculous Mitt Romney decries the Clinton campaign proposal as ``European-style socialized medicine."
But Romney knows so little about health care that he cannot even pick a smart site for a press conference on the issue -- he derided the Clinton plan in front of St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan, home of the Rudolph W. Giuliani Trauma Center. that is named for his chief rival in the Republican nomination race.
The reality is that the Clinton plan is about as socialistic as a Ronald Reagan corporate tax cut.
The Clinton plan maintains the current system of for-profit, insurance-industry defined health care delivery. The only real change is that, in return for minimal requirements regarding coverage of those with preexisting conditions, the government would pump hundreds of billions in federal dollars into the accounts of some of the country's wealthiest corporations. The plan's tax credit scheme would buy some more coverage for low-income families, which is good, but it would do so at a cost so immense that, ultimately, Clinton's plan will be as tough a sell as the failed 1993 "Hillarycare" proposal.
America is ready for health care reform.
But it is not ready for more bureaucracy, more expense and more revenue for insurance companies.
Despite what Mitt Romney says, Clinton and the Democrats would have a far easier time selling ``European-style socialized medicine" that what the senator from New York is peddling. And that does not even take into account the potential appeal of a uniquely American single-payer system that might intelligently combine the necessary efficiency of a publicly-funded and defined payment program for covering costs with the appealing prospect of allowing Americans to choose their own basic plans and doctors.
Clinton could have proposed such a system. Indeed, she could have modeled it on the plan she and other members of Congress now enjoy.
Instead, she chose to propose a scheme defined not by the needs or desires of the American people but by the demands of existing insurance firms and a dysfunctional for-profit health care industry.
If the senator is nominated and elected, and if she advances the initiative she unveiled Monday, there will be no health-care reform. And America's uninsured and under-insured millions will be doomed to suffer for another decade or so because Hillary Clinton was incapable of extracting herself from the grip of the corporations that have made it so hard for the Americans to get the care they need. John Nichols' new book is The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders' Cure for Royalism. Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson hails it as a "nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use of the 'heroic medicine' that is impeachment with a call for Democratic leaders to 'reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by the founders for the defense of our most basic liberties.'"
Copyright © 2007 The Nation