Last time, First Lady Hillary Clinton put together a plan so complex that even her supporters didn't really understand it. There were the flow charts, the endless documents, the details that touched on everything including the funding of academic hospitals in upstate New York. Thirteen years ago, her Big Healthâ€“Care Idea collapsed, not with a bang but a whimper, the Senate adjourning without even a vote.
Jump ahead to yesterday's announcement and Senator Hillary Clinton has learned her lesson well: the speech was heavy on soaring rhetoric and largely absent of detail.
Her sales pitch has improved; her faith in government remains the same.
The cornerstone idea: Make employers buy insurance for their employees. From a distance, it doesn't sound unfairâ€”but it probably would do little, except lead to more outsourcing, partâ€“time jobs, and contracting out. That, after all, is the experience of Hawaii, whose mandate is more than three decades old, and whose uninsurance rate tops that of several states.
The other ideas? Expand government programs like SCHIP and Medicaid; regulate insurance companies more; push individuals to buy insurance; undo the Bush tax cuts. The end result is a Washington that insures more people and dictates the terms of the insurance of everybody else, and costs too much. Call it HillaryCare on the installment plan.