Viewed in its best light, President Bush's belated entry into the health care debate offers assurance that the nation within the next few years will finally do something about this over-arching problem. By acknowledging that the present system is in "crisis" and by asserting society's obligation to provide health care to its most disadvantaged citizens, Mr. Bush has given what the American Medical Association calls an "aura of inevitability" to what we have termed "the issue of the decade."
There are many flaws in the president's plan, most especially his refusal to provide a convincing framework for controlling sky-rocketing costs or for financing an initiative bearing an official price tag of $100 billion over the next five years. There are equally serious flaws in the contradictory plans put forth by his Democratic rivals, most especially their over-reliance on government and their failure to address the astronomical costs of full or partial national health systems.
With an election year upon us, there is almost no chance Washington will act this year. Nevertheless, common ground exists in that the administration's plan and the Democratic leadership's "play or pay" scheme both place stress on pooling insurance funds so that small businesses can afford to buy insurance for workers now uncovered. Mr. Bush's laudatory comments about a private-sector pooling arrangement already in place in Cleveland might encourage Maryland business organizations to attempt similar initiatives.