Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘individual mandate’

Republican leaders continue to embarrass themselves on healthcare reform

Posted by sanityinjection on July 14, 2017

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has just released the latest version of a Republican healthcare bill to replace Obamacare. And almost immediately, the bill is in danger of failing a procedural vote just to allow it to be debated. And so, like the sand in the hourglass, these are the days of the Republican-controlled Congress, marked chiefly by a complete inability to accomplish anything of importance. But the paralysis on healthcare is especially embarrassing because this is the issue on which so many Republican legislators ran. Remember the refrain: “Repeal and replace!” It seems like forever ago now.

The danger is very real that voters will punish a do-nothing Congress in the next election. Republican voters who believed the promises will be especially ticked off. So knowing this, why can’t the GOP caucus get its act together?

The problem, as usual, is that leadership is over-complicating the bills. In order to try to please and gain the support of all three wings of the party – liberal, centrist, and conservative – they keep adding things to the legislation to win over these groups. Of course, since those factions have very different goals, each thing leadership adds ends up losing more votes on one side than it gains on the other.

What McConnell and his team should do now is abort this latest bill and start fresh by remembering *why* Republicans were opposed to Obamacare in the first place. It wasn’t because they were against expanding access to health insurance for the poor. For most, it wasn’t even because they opposed spending more federal money on healthcare. No, think back and recall that there was one single provision of Obamacare that Republicans across the spectrum were dead-set against. That was the individual mandate, which forces Americans to purchase health insurance and fines us if we don’t.

The individual mandate is prima facie unconstitutional (I don’t care what the Supreme Court said.) It is difficult to imagine a similar federal law requiring Americans to purchase any other good or service. It’s also thinly disguised socialism, as the purpose of the mandate is to force wealthier and healthier people to pay into the insurance system to subsidize the premiums of poorer and sicker people.

The essence of effective legislating is not letting the perfect become the enemy of the good. Or to put it another way,  a small victory is always better than a large failure. The only way I can see for Republicans to salvage something out of the healthcare mess is to simply pass a stripped-down bill that only does one thing: repeal the individual mandate. GOP legislators would then be forced to either support the bill or be caught nakedly going back on their campaign promises without any extra language they can point to to justify their opposition. It should be able to get enough Republican votes to pass both the House and Senate.

Of course, the Democrats will scream that repealing the individual mandate will “kill children” because of the socialist funding system mentioned above. This polemic, however, can be easily undercut by establishing a private, non-profit charitable fund to help pay for health insurance for those who cannot afford it but are ineligible for Medicaid. Contributions to the fund, however, will be a matter of public record. Then it will be up to the Democrats to get all their rich Hollywood celebrity friends, and George Soros, to put *their* money, instead of our money, where their mouths are. Heck, if they want to, they can buy multiple health insurance policies for themselves to put more money into the system. But once again, there will be no political place to hide on either side of the aisle.

I’m not under any illusion that anything as sensible as what I’ve just outlined is going to happen. Over-complicating things is what keeps Washington going, it’s what pays the salaries of all the bureaucrats and lobbyists. It’s an excellent example of why bigger government invariably becomes worse government.

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Posted in Domestic News, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Debating the health insurance “individual mandate”

Posted by sanityinjection on February 11, 2010

One of the features that is likely to be included in any federal health care reform bill is the “individual mandate” – a legal requirement that every citizen must purchase health insurance or be subject to fines and penalties. This provision is generally seen as an essential part of any plan that expands health insurance coverage to just about everybody as the President and his allies want to do. It is necessary because you need to have the healthiest people – who might otherwise choose to gamble on not buying insurance – participating in the system in order to help pay for the cost of care for those who are sick and need expensive treatments.

A good example of this is the so-called “Massachusetts model” enacted by that state under its former Governor Mitt Romney. In Massachusetts, you are required to provide proof of your health insurance (sent to you by your insurance company) when you fill out your state income taxes. If you cannot do so, you are penalized.

Let us not beat around the bush: If you are forced to pay for something you don’t think you need, in order to subsidize it for somebody else – that is socialism. The individual mandate is the closest thing to the old left-wing goal of “socialized medicine” short of an actual government insurance program or “public option”.

A number of states such as Virginia are taking action to try to pre-empt a federal mandate by passing legislation banning it in their state. While it’s legally questionable whether such laws would actually be valid against a federal law, it is interesting to note that support for the idea is coming from both Republicans and Democrats.

Imagine for a moment you are Bill Gates. Why do you need health insurance? You can afford the cost of even the most expensive health care procedures. You have no incentive to pay monthly premiums against the chance of getting sick or injured. Under an individual mandate, you would be forced to buy health insurance not for your own good, but as a required contribution to the cost of everybody else’s insurance. Unfortunately for everybody else though, Bill Gates’ insurance isn’t necessarily any more expensive than ours, so he is not paying into the system any more than you or I do.

I believe that individual health insurance mandates are wrong in principle. If you have to be compelled to do something that’s supposed to be good for you, maybe it isn’t so good for you. If health care costs were more reasonable, there would not be such pressure to socialize them. Once again, we see that reducing the cost of health care is the most important reform, and that successfully doing so would reduce the need for other reforms. Any reform that achieves some other goal such as expanding coverage but fails to impact the actual cost of health care is essentially doomed to fail.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »