Posts Tagged ‘individual mandate’
January 12th, 2010 at 11:30 pm
Return of the Amish
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Back in September, I chronicled the controversy that accompanied health care reform in the Amish community, where government assistance is usually refused as a matter of faith.

Now comes word that heavily Amish communities have lobbied to get themselves exempted from Obamacare’s insurance mandates, a set-aside that could extend to other, similarly situated groups such as Christian Scientists or Old Order Mennonites.

My hat is off to the religious groups that have been able to carve out an exemption. One wonders how far this trend will go. By the same standard, wouldn’t it be legitimate for Catholics to seek an out if they feel their faith is compromised by the abortion provisions in the new bill? What if Jehovah’s Witnesses are required to carry insurance with provisions for blood transfusions?

Of course, we don’t allow untrammeled discretion to religious beliefs.  If your religion sanctioned murder or theft, you wouldn’t get a pass from the state. Rather, the western tradition of liberty has always been strongly influenced by the concept of natural rights — that the aspects of individuals that constitute their inherent dignity as human beings should be immune from coercive influence by the state.

Health care is an area that overlaps with those rights so frequently that these early controversies will prove to be only the tip of the iceberg. Thus, health care reform doesn’t just represent government overreach — it involves a paradigm shift in the relationship between the government and the governed. If we were truly adhering to this nation’s natural rights tradition, every American would get the same right of refusal as the Amish.

December 18th, 2009 at 6:18 pm
Would Passing Health Care Reform Hurt Mitt Romney in 2012?

In the rush to secure enough votes to pass the comprehensive health care “reform” bill before Christmas, Democrats in the Senate seem to agree that while a “public option” is out, an “individual mandate” is most certainly in.  Simply put, if passed, every American would be required by federal law to purchase health insurance or pay a fine.  Although there are some subtle distinctions between then Governor Romney’s proposal and a “pure” individual mandate, after only three years in effect, the Massachusetts legislature opted for purity over subtlety.  Thus, the result of Romney’s carefully crafted compromise turned into the blueprint for the first iteration of ObamaCare.

How odd it would be for Romney if his presidential prospects depended on the success or failure of the Democrats’ version of universal health care.  Already, libertarian and conservative commentators are starting to make the connection between the federal bill and Massachusetts.  Come the primaries, it will take a nanosecond for opposition researchers and spin doctors to lash ObamaCare to RomneyCare.  If they do, and the current distaste for nuance still prevails, Romney’s likely explanations of this-but-no-further policy making could be his undoing.

November 25th, 2009 at 12:31 pm
Government Mandates and Health Care
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Much has been made about the proposed federal mandate that all individuals purchase health insurance.  Some have called this mandate unconstitutional since the only constitutional justification could be the interstate commerce clause in Article I.

Since standing around and not purchasing health care is hardly an act of interstate commerce, critics make a good point.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) went one step further in its criticism of the mandate in 1994 when it noted that the individual mandate was “an unprecedented form of federal action.  The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States.”

This year, Greg Dattilo and Dave Racer conducted a study of state and federal mandates.  The results aren’t too surprising when you consider that most government action fails to achieve the desired result, or leads to unintended consequences that harm other sectors of the economy.

For example, auto insurance is mandatory in 47 states but the uninsured rate has held steady at 14.6 percent.  In addition, the federal income tax is of course mandatory, but the non-compliance rate is still 14.7 percent.  These individuals are all law breakers, to be sure, but mandating something doesn’t make it so.

I would propose a government mandate on happiness, prosperity and full employment.  That could solve a lot of problems.  Perhaps a government mandate on earning at least $30,000 a year?  The way the FED is printing money, that should be no problem.  Maybe a government mandate for universal chocolate chip cookie access and subsequent ban on diabetes?

Racer and Dattilo conclude:

If the goals of health reform are to reduce the uninsured rate, increase access to health care, and improve quality, forcing more people to sign up for health plans is not the answer.  The CBO makes it very clear; people who are forced to own health insurance will, as a result, use more health services.  That will increase overall health spending, put stress on the supply of health care services (reducing access) and not make a dent in quality.

October 19th, 2009 at 2:35 pm
Obama Economic Aide Criticized Individual Mandates, Government Financing
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Larry Summers, Director of President Obama’s National Economic Council, has been a loyal ally to the administration and proponent of current health care reform proposals floating around Congress.

Summers has backed ObamaCare despite the many troubling provisions contained in House and Senate legislation, namely the individual health care mandate and the government-run public option.

Apparently, the economic views of Dr. Summers have changed in the current partisan environment.  When he was an academic and cared more about economic externalities than political favoritism, he penned this paper critiquing individual mandates and government-run plans.

Here is an excerpt:

Note that a payroll tax on employers directed at financing health insurance benefits publicly would have the same employment displacement effects [translation: people lose their jobs] as a mandated health insurance program….  If policymakers fail to recognize the costs of mandated benefits because they do not appear in the government budget, then mandated benefit programs could lead to excessive spending on social programs.  There is no sense in which benefits become “free” just because the government mandates that employers offer them to workers.  As with value-added taxes, it can plausibly be argued that mandated benefits fuel the growth of government.”