Commentary

Dr. Hillary Will See You Now

Hillary Clinton says she has learned the lessons HillaryCare I. Judging by HillaryCare II, she still prefers the perverse incentives of collectivism over the virtuous incentives of the market. All she learned was that she wasn’t sneaky enough the first time around.

Rather than herd consumers into regional insurance pools (where Washington calls the shots), Clinton would let consumers stay right where they are (and have Washington call the shots) or join a national purchasing pool (where Washington calls the shots).

You may recognize that idea as the one that put President Kerry in the White House. Ditto President Lieberman. And President Clark. And even President Dean.

Clinton would require that all employers offer coverage, that all residents buy it, and that Washington dictate its price and content. She would levy higher income taxes on the wealthy, and hidden taxes on everyone.

She would open Medicare to the near-elderly, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to nearly all children, and the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Plan to nearly everyone. Should anyone be left behind, she would turn the private sector into a de facto government program.

Clinton still equates reform with less freedom. The freedom to choose whether to purchase health insurance? Gone. The freedom to purchase the insurance you want? Gone. The freedom to run a competitive business? To hold on to your earnings? To make your own health care decisions? Gone, gone, gone.

Yet so many elements of HillaryCare II enjoy a Republican pedigree that Clinton can portray it as moderate. Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts reforms included a government purchasing pool (the “connector”) as well as individual and employer mandates. SCHIP is the child of Orrin Hatch. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorses employer mandates and price controls.

Unfortunately, those contributions to the Clinton campaign will not appear in any FEC reports.

Michael F. Cannon is director of health policy studies and coauthor of the forthcoming 2nd edition of Healthy Competition: What’s Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It.