The Clinton Diagnosis

For more than two decades, critics of the American health care system have been unrelenting in their charge that it is a singular failure and manifestly unfair. We are told that millions of our fellow citizens have no access to basic medical services and that our very survival as a nation is threatened by the costs of treating those who do receive care.

If this sounds a bit melodramatic or hyperbolic, listen to the Clinton diagnosis of what ails us. Before a joint session of Congress last September, the President said, "Millions of Americans are just a pink slip away from losing their health insurance, and one serious illness away from losing all their savings. Millions more are locked into the jobs they have now just because they or someone in their family has been sick and they have a preexisting condition. And on any given day, over 37 million Americans—most of them working people and their little children—have no health insurance at all."

President Clinton's assessment of the cost of health care was equally grim. He said we are now spending so much money on health care that large businesses are finding it difficult to compete globally, small businesses are unable to invest, and even our living standards are at stake. If health care costs continue to "devour" the budget, Clinton told Congress, "Pretty soon all of you or the people who succeed you will be showing up here and writing...

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