Hillary Clinton’s Plan Would Ruin U.S. Health Care

Published December 1, 2007

What’s past is prologue for the Hillary Health Plot, Part II.

Just as she did in 1993, when she was the point person for the Clinton administration’s health care reform proposals, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) wants to rule your health care. Americans would suffer from her longtime arrogance and mistrust of people not employed by the government.

In late September Clinton described another part of her plans for taking over Americans’ health and medical care. As before, she continues to confuse and conflate health care with health insurance. There is a big difference between the two.

Different Things

Medical care means actually having your medical problems cared for–whether it’s a reassuring telephone conversation with your doctor or heart surgery that resolves your problem.

Mandatory government insurance is quite different from voluntary private insurance. For starters, “government” is an articulation of political decisions, and “insurance” is a promise to be made good in the future. This boils down to “government insurance”–in other words, “political promise.”

By contrast, voluntary private insurance is voluntary; you don’t have to buy it if you don’t want to. And it’s private, meaning your application and medical information are less likely to become part of a government database open to curious bureaucrats and politicians.

Planning Punishments

A September 25 story by The Associated Press described Clinton as saying “a mandate requiring every American to purchase health insurance was the only way to achieve universal health care” but “at this point, we don’t have anything punitive that we have proposed.”

However, Clinton said she could envision a day when “you have to show proof to your employer that you’re insured as a part of the job interview–like when your kid goes to school and has to show proof of vaccination.”

No health insurance, no job. That sounds pretty punishing to us.

Government Arrogance

Some of Clinton’s supporters reflect the arrogance behind her plan. Clinton’s Web site quotes former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala as saying, “No one in public life knows more about health care than Senator Clinton.”

Remember an exchange between then-Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX) and Paul Starr, one of Clinton’s health care experts, during her 1990s expedition into the health care jungle? Gramm said he cared more about his own children than Starr did. Starr objected, saying something to the effect that he actually cared more about the senator’s children than Gramm himself did.

Gramm then asked, “OK. What are their birthdays?”

Starr’s claim is the kind of government arrogance we’d all experience under Clinton’s plan.

No Insurance?

Clinton is not telling the truth when she talks about choice. Under her plan, she promises Americans can keep their existing coverage or use the same menu of “quality private insurance options that their members of Congress receive.” But one of the options federal government employees have is to not buy any insurance. But there is an incentive for government employees to use the government plan: Your tax dollars pay for most of their premiums.

Clinton doesn’t want Americans to have the choice not to have insurance, even though many have been happily living without it for years.

She also equates “quality” with good insurance benefits–not the results of your medical treatment. She doesn’t mention that Americans have longer survival times and lower annual death rates from cancer, on average, than Europeans, according to several reports. But she would have us implement a European-style socialized health program in a heartbeat.

Bad Ideas

One doctor practicing in Maryland, Robert L. Morgan, thinks very little of the way Clinton’s plan would work. Clinton apparently thinks “primary care docs can be spread around like so much peanut butter, thin enough so that we cover everyone,” he notes. “It doesn’t matter that we’re burning out or that we’re frustrated with providing inferior care.”

Morgan now deals directly with patients for payment, instead of hobbling his practice with private or government insurance restrictions.

Another thing Clinton–a lawyer by training–doesn’t mention is how frivolous lawsuits brought by predatory trial lawyers increase health care costs.

In addition, her proposals would expand Medicaid and bankrupt health insurance companies. She has learned to leave out a lot of the details she gallantly would leave to Congress to figure out.

That is faint praise at best for another power play for government control over a large part of the economy.

Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D. ([email protected]) is a visiting fellow in economics and citizenship at the International Trade Education Foundation of the Washington International Trade Council. Robert J. Cihak, M.D. ([email protected]) is a senior fellow and board member of the Discovery Institute and a past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.