Individual mandate needed in health care
Published: Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Updated: Thursday, June 7, 2012 12:06
Speaker of the House John Boehner is committed to “repealing Obamacare in its entirety,” stating that “anything short of that is unacceptable.” While the American public remains divided on the issue, the Republican Party is not. The rhetoric that comes from the political right when it comes to most controversial parts of the Affordable Care Act and the individual mandate has remained strict and fierce. Conservatives think tanks in this country have consistently called the mandate everything from “socialized medicine” to “a cancer” while the conservative politicians on the other hand prefer the name “Obamacare,” but regardless of the name used, one thing is certainly clear: Conservatives do not like the idea of the individual mandate. The individual mandate works like this — the federal government will subsidize us to participate in private health insurance markets known as “exchanges,” and in these exchanges the insurers will not be able to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions.
Individuals can opt not to buy insurance, but they will have to pay a fine. To keep the premium cost down, the government would equate the size of the subsidy to the second least expensive plan in the market, which is considered competitive bidding to encourage people to go with cheaper plans. That sounds like a pretty good idea to me, and a conservative one as well. After all, it is the same plan Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney implemented as governor of Massachusetts.
I understand it is one thing to implement a health care reform plan like this in one state, and it’s a completely different story to implement something like this nationwide. Even though Romney has pandered so far to the right during the Republican primary in order to court the conservative wing of the Republican party, I can understand the argument that he had to implement a healthcare plan like his to fix the failed healthcare system in the liberal state of Massachusetts.
But is there a difference if the same plan is applied federally but only to Americans ages 65 and up? Well, Republican Congressman and Chairman of the House Budget Committee Paul Ryan seems to think so, considering his plan to “fix” Medicare is very similar, if not the exact same as the individual mandate, with the exception of the fact that it doesn’t actually grant coverage like the ACA would. Just ask Boehner, who said of Ryan’s Medicare plan last year, “It transforms Medicare into a plan that’s very similar to the president’s own health care bill.”
There are some parts of the ACA that Republicans are actually OK with, like young adults being able to stay on their parents’ healthcare plan until the age of 26 and not allowing insurance companies to deny coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions, but is affording all of that possible without the individual mandate? If the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate for forcing Americans to purchase health insurance in a private market, they won’t look too favorably on Republican demands that Americans do the same for Medicare. If that’s not ironic enough, I have a better one. The Supreme Court has already ruled that the social security mandate is constitutional, a single-payer system for healthcare that is similar to the way Medicare works now, which was actually what most liberals would prefer as compared to the individual mandate, and this would definitely be constitutional.
The conservative dream of privatizing Social Security and Medicare would not be constitutional, so conservatives should think twice before calling for things like “repealing Obamacare in its entirety.”
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