If Democrats learned anything from the HillaryCare defeat, it was the danger of admitting to their wish to federalize the health market. Since returning to power, they've pursued a new strategy: to stealthily and incrementally expand government control. "What no one is paying attention to in the [stimulus]," says Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, "is that Democrats are making a big grab at the health-care sector."The stimulus bill extends Medicare benefits to millions of people who lost work, extends COBRA benefits for years and picks up 65% of those premiums, and attacks the private market in electronic medical records. After passing SCHIP (greatly expanded from the bill Bush vetoed) they are also targeting Medicare for even more expansion.
Add it up, and Democrats may move 10 million more Americans under the federal health umbrella -- in just four weeks! Good luck ever cutting off that money. Meanwhile, the Democratic majority is gearing up for a Medicare fight, where it may broach plans to lower the eligibility age to 55.I had been looking forward to (and dreading) what I assumed would be a major battle between Teddy Kennedy and the opponents of nationalized health care. I had hoped that, just as in the Clinton years, the American people would come to their senses and beat back the onslaught. Now I wonder if Kennedy is playing his part as a distraction--collapsing at an inaugural lunch, riding into Congress on a white horse to standing ovations and tearful accolades, all the while dramatically vowing to fight for the government takeover of health care--while the rest of Congress passes nationalization bills in the dark of night. Be afraid. Be very afraid.