WHATEVER bill is passed eventually, Bill Clinton will get...

February 24, 1994|By Mona Charen

WHATEVER bill is passed eventually, Bill Clinton will get credit for it." So says a leading political analyst regarding proposed health care reform. He reflects the conventional wisdom that President Clinton is due acclaim for bringing health care to the table.

I disagree. The Hillary plan, if enacted, would be a farrago of bureaucratic inefficiencies, economic dislocations, rationing, declining quality and corruption. And even if the chances of such a bill passing are remote, the Clintons deserve censure for forcing sensible people to marshal forces in opposition to it.

Bill and Hillary Clinton think they can play with the American economy the way children play Monopoly.

They argue that 1) we cannot tolerate the existence of the 37 million uninsured; 2) we are spending too much money on health care; and 3) we can reconcile the first two problems. In fact, that is impossible without imposing the strictest rationing.

The Clintons hotly deny that their plan would require rationing of care as other countries with socialized medicine do, but after a close reading of the bill, scholar Elizabeth McCaughey, writing in the New Republic magazine, has conclusively demonstrated that it would.

Under the Clinton plan, every American would receive medical coverage, but the government -- not you and your doctor -- would decide which treatments were available and which not. Ms. McCaughey has been smeared by the White House as a liar for asserting this in print, but she has responded with spirit and specificity.

The Clintons claim to be offering health "security" and fiscal integrity when, in truth, they are really engaged in the greatest aggrandizement of government power and intrusiveness since the New Deal. Indeed, when it comes to invasions of privacy, the Clinton plan is unprecedented in American history. Doctors would be required to submit all information about your care, including mental health information, to a national data bank where it would be encoded with your personal identification number. Failure to report a "clinical encounter" (translation: office visit) will result in a $10,000 fine to the doctor for each violation.

The Clintons counter that they will submit legislation and regulations to protect privacy down the road. Thanks all the same, but I'd just as soon the government not have that data in the first place.

The rationale for the Clinton intrusion into the most private realm of our lives is based upon many fallacies, but they are not wrong to claim that there are problems with health delivery. It is difficult to obtain insurance with a pre-existing condition. And doctors are spending too much time on paperwork instead of patient care. But the Clintons want to replace the entire engine when only the tail pipe is loose. Worse, they want to overhaul a Cadillac engine with plans based on the Yugo.

Republicans are only half right when they say that there is no health care crisis in the United States. The crisis is the threat posed by Mr. and Mrs. Government, currently residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist.

The real health care crisis

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