Most health care opponents who violently object to the mandate in the recently passed health care bill that nearly every American must have health insurance or face a tax penalty probably aren’t aware of a major irony: The health care bill got the idea for a mandate from the GOP.
The obligation in the new health care law is a Republican idea that’s been around at least two decades. It was once trumpeted as an alternative to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s failed health care overhaul in the 1990s. These days, Republicans call it government overreach.
"The idea of an individual mandate as an alternative to single-payer was a Republican idea," said health economist Mark Pauly of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. In 1991, he published a paper that explained how a mandate could be combined with tax credits — two ideas that are now part of Obama’s law. Pauly’s paper was well-received — by the George H.W. Bush administration.
"It could have been the basis for a bipartisan compromise, but it wasn’t," said Pauly. "Because the Democrats were in favor, the Republicans more or less had to be against it." –AP
Notably, no Republican in either the Senate or the House voted for the bill. And now, 13 attorneys general have filed lawsuits against the federal government claiming the health care bill is unconstitutional, chiefly due to the mandate. The lawsuit states that ”The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage.”
Do the Republicans actually want anything other than for the Democrats to fail? It’s becoming increasingly impossible for them to justify their positions based on principle alone. When the health care bill was being debated, they argued that frivolous lawsuits and overuse of the legal system were the main reasons our health care system is so expensive; once it passed, they had hired lawyers and filed lawsuits within seven minutes. The insurance mandate used to be their solution to the health care crisis, but now that it’s a part of Democratic-backed legislation, it’s a blatantly unconstitutional threat to American rights.