The NYT Keeps Its Fingers Crossed for Hillary-Care

Robin Toner: "Some of the romanticism about the virtues of the American health care system may be diminishing, and not just among the audiences who cheered Michael Moore's 'Sicko' this summer."

Reporter Robin Toner rooted for socialized Hillary-health care in Sunday's Week in Review front-page, above-the-fold story, "Unveiling Health Care 2.0, Again."

"Rarely does a politician, a party or a political system get a chance at a do-over.

"Yet when Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton rolls out her comprehensive health plan in Iowa on Monday, it will be just that: Mrs. Clinton, or whoever the next president might be, has a second chance to fix a system that has, in many ways, deteriorated in the 14 years since the Clintons' last attempt at an overhaul.

Toner crossed her fingers:

"But will it turn out any differently this time? Can another big national health plan survive the furious lobbying of the interest groups, the divisions between the parties, the ambivalence of the public?

"It is, clearly, a moment of political opportunity: Strong majorities of Americans, once again, tell pollsters they want guaranteed health care for all. Some of the most powerful interest groups - representing business, labor, hospitals and insurers - have tried to set aside their differences to call for action.

"The number of uninsured is approaching 50 million, the average cost of family coverage has risen 78 percent in the last six years, and more and more employers say they cannot afford to provide health coverage and still compete in a global marketplace."

The Business and Media Institute tackled that misleading figure of "50 million" uninsured, spread by left-wing documentarian Michael Moore, who Toner also cited in her story.

According to BMI's Julia Seymour:

"But there are millions of people who should be excluded from that tally, including: those who aren't American citizens, people who can afford their own insurance, and people who already qualify for government coverage but haven't signed up."

Toner suggested on Sunday that the American people had wised up about the "romantic" vision of a superior U.S. health care system.

"For its part, the public may also be sadder but wiser, some analysts say. Most Americans are now in some form of managed care, still a novel concept in the early 1990s. More say they know someone who is going without health insurance, working in jobs that do not provide it. Most people with coverage still say they are personally satisfied with the care they receive but they are worried about the system as a whole.

"Some of the romanticism about the virtues of the American health care system may be diminishing, and not just among the audiences who cheered Michael Moore's 'Sicko' this summer. Robert D. Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute and a longtime expert on health policy, noted that recent studies show the United States does not rank at the top on several measures of health care quality, like waiting times to see physicians."

The misleading number of uninsured was also given in support of the Clinton plan in Sunday's piece by health reporter Robert Pear.

"Mrs. Clinton's purpose, they said, is not only to cover the 47 million people who are uninsured but to improve the quality of health care and make insurance more affordable for those who already have it."

Other policy experts, like Michael Cannon of the libertarian Cato Institute, puts the figure of "chronically uninsured Americans" at around 10 million.