Clinton's plan would make this ramshackle system worse. She proposes more regulations on insurers and a mandate on large employers to provide insurance coverage or pay a tax. The regulations will make insurance even more expensive, while the employer mandate would only augment the current senseless system of people getting insurance through their jobs.
This means that the private-insurance market would, in all likelihood, continue to break down. And, of course, government will be there to keep increasing its market share. As Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute points out, Clinton proposes widening the availability of every government health-care program at hand -- Medicare would be extended to the nonelderly; the S-Chip program for poor children would be extended to the middle class; and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan would be extended to all. And all without the taint of a "radical overhaul."
Back in 1993, the burden of proof was on Clinton to prove the necessity of her health-care ideas. Now, the burden of proof has probably shifted to her opponents, and she benefits from the fact that Republicans have endorsed some of her specific proposals (including an "individual mandate" that everyone get insured). In short, she re-enters the health-care debate from a position of strength.
Lately, Republicans like President Bush and Rudy Giuliani have gotten into the game, offering forward-looking ideas to try to create a health-care market where individuals can buy their own insurance. That would be the best health-care reform, but HillaryCare 2.0 looms, more cautious and therefore more plausible than her first act.
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