The vexed question of how to fund social care
It is a big idea, a grand ambition summed up in a resonant phrase - the national care service.
There is, however, still no plan to realise that goal within the foreseeable future.
In a giveaway phrase the Health Secretary Andy Burnham spoke on the radio this morning about taking "the momentous decision to say in principle" that the cost of paying for social care should - like the NHS - be met on a population-wide, risk-sharing basis.
Mr Burnham insists that he's taking steps on "the journey" to making that principle a reality, including plans to pay for the care at home of those in the most severe need and today's pledge to meet the costs of those in residential care after two years. But it is quite a journey. If Labour is re-elected there will be a commission (another one) to agree the vexed question of how to fund social care in England. In order to reassure voters scared by Tory posters warning of a "death tax", ministers have decided to pledge that the idea could not become law in the next Parliament.
The "death tax" is not, in fact, dead but it has been reduced to an option to be considered by a new Commission whose proposals would not become law until after a second election - in other words not until after 2016.
The Tories reject the idea of a compulsory tax arguing, instead, for a voluntary £8,000 insurance levy which would cover the costs of residential care but not care in the home. Critics highlight their lack of ambition compared with the scale of the challenge as well as the fear that this is an option that would only be taken up by the relatively well-off.
So, what we have today is an important clash of principles - an unspecified universal tax to pay for care you might not need versus a voluntary levy, which many might not choose or feel able to afford to take up, leaving them still vulnerable to losing their savings and their homes.
The fashionable cry is for politicians to simply stop bickering and get on with coming up with the answer. I look forward to those people lining up to volunteer to pay thousands of pounds in tax - whether before or after their death, whether as a voluntary or compulsory levy.
There is a reason this is an issue that has yet to be resolved. It's hugely expensive, very complex and voters don't much like being asked to pay for something they might not actually need.