Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton is pitching a new plan she unveiled this week that would guarantee health insurance to all Americans. The proposal wouldn’t change anything for insured people who don’t want to change—unlike the doomed reform package she helped push 14 years ago during her husband’s administration. “Part of our health care system is the best in the world, and we should build on it,” Clinton said. “Part of the system is broken, and we should fix it.”
This plan is “far slyer, and far cleverer, far more well-packaged” than Hillary’s first failed health plan, said Peter Ferrara in National Review Online. But this monstrous new “entitlement” would require all Americans to buy insurance and force insurance companies to accept all applicants, those who are “woefully sick and costly.” That means that what Clinton wants to do is “end any real private insurance in America.”
There are no new ideas here, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. “HillaryCare II would mark another major government intrusion into health care.” This plan seeks to win over small businesses by promising tax credits to cover the cost of insuring their employees. The rub? The money will evaporate when the mandatory insurance rule drives up premiums, as they always do. This proposal will take “the system's current problems" and "entrench and expand them. The creativity is all in the political repackaging.”
Actually, Clinton seems to have learned a lot from her failed push for universal health care, said Ronald Brownstein in the Los Angeles Times (free registration). This time around she’s “offering insurers a grand bargain.” Sure, she’s telling them they can’t turn anyone down. But by requiring everyone to get insured she’s sending them millions of new customers—think of all the young people who aren’t covered now. And the tax credits for small business should mollify the “shock troops” who shot down her first crack at reform.
The fact that Clinton would “dream” of pitching such an ambitious plan speaks volumes about the “pressing need to fix” our wheezing health-care system, said USA Today in an editorial. By coming up with a “mix of private and public insurance,” Clinton may have found a proposal with enough bipartisan appeal to at least start a conversation about how to keep the system from “collapsing under the weight of its own cost and inefficiency.”
Clinton’s plan is “ambitious,” said Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic Online, but so are those of rival candidates, including John Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama. The tax credit is one thing that makes Clinton’s proposal unique. Regardless, the encouraging thing is that “all three of the leading Democratic candidates have put forward serious and smart plans that would get insurance coverage to most, if not all Americans—and, in the process, eliminate a great deal of human misery.”