Last month (June 5), the British medical journal The Lancet
hopefully titled its editorial on U.S. health care and the November election, "Bush vs Kerry: health is a critically decisive issue"
(free). After surveying the relatively tepic health-reform proposals of both the Bush and the Kerry camps, however, and reminding us that the Clintons' experience in 1993 has probably turned ambitious health reform into one of the many "third rails of American politics," the editorial doesn't seem to hold out much hope for anything major in this election cycle. Voters themselves, "say they are for health reform, most, being middle class, have health insurance, and have, in the past at least, proved to be reluctant to support changes that they fear might drive up their own costs or threaten their benefits." So, in the great American tradition of doing the right thing only after all other alternatives have been exhausted, the editorialists conclude: "But as the current health-care crisis continues, and as more and more middle-class Americans see their out-of-pocket expenses rise and their benefits threatened, voters may be ready to heed calls for far more fundamental reform than either candidate now dares to propose."