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Changing Doctors

Health-care reform is coming. The only question is what kind.

12:00 AM, Oct 23, 2007 • By DUNCAN CURRIE
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Of course, Republicans still have a stark credibility deficit. In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted this past February, 62 percent of respondents said that, between the two parties, the Democrats were "more likely to improve the health-care system." Only 19 percent said the Republicans. In the same poll, 90 percent said the system either requires "fundamental changes" (54 percent) or needs to be completely rebuilt (36 percent). Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) agreed that "the federal government should guarantee health insurance for all Americans."

So Democrats have undeniable momentum. The public supports them on S-Chip and distrusts the Republicans. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards have outlined ambitious blueprints for boosting government management and regulation of health care. And even though Giuliani, Romney, and McCain have embraced some watershed free-market reforms, the leading GOP presidential candidates seem more interested in bickering over their partisan credentials than they do in discussing the specifics of health insurance.

But as the Democrats grow bolder, Republicans are beginning to realize that merely whacking the piñata of "HillaryCare" won't be enough. They need to present an alternative vision. Judging by the policy stirrings on Capitol Hill, and by the Giuliani, Romney, and McCain reform plans, Republicans may finally have one--even if their 2008 frontrunners would rather talk about something else.

Duncan Currie is managing editor of The American.