News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: The significance of the ‘individual mandate’

DALLAS (BP)–As we pass the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Health Care Act, there’s strong evidence to show that if the legislation is fully implemented, it will be anything but affordable.

First, in Massachusetts, which is nearly five years into its “Romneycare” plan, a model for the national overhaul, spending has skyrocketed. Governor Deval Patrick is trying to fix this by bringing in something called the ACO, the “accountable care organization.” Remember the old HMOs (health maintenance organizations), managed care where Big Medicine makes more money the less care it provides? Another name for this is rationing. In April 2006, then-Gov. Romney wrote in The Wall Street Journal, “Every uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health care and the cost of health care will be reduced.” It hasn’t happened. The only way Massachusetts is going to be able to sustain its system is for the government to decide exactly what will be paid for and how much.

The national healthcare overhaul was supposed to avoid this problem with something called the individual mandate, a requirement that every American purchase government-approved health insurance. Requiring the young and healthy to participate in the system, even if they are unwilling, is the only way to make it work financially. That’s why the Obama administration called the individual mandate the lynchpin of the health care law. When you take the lynchpin out of a machine it falls apart — and that’s what the health care law does without the individual mandate. The individual mandate is also the subject of a lawsuit that could end up in the United States Supreme Court.

Virginia has a law called the Healthcare Freedom Act which protects its citizens from being forced into an individual mandate. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is suing the federal government to protect that law. He won at the federal district level, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case May 10th. Twenty-six other states, led by Florida, have joined together in a similar lawsuit. Judge Roger Vinson ruled in their favor and that case is heading to the 11th Circuit.

Mr. Cuccinelli states unequivocally, “The case is about liberty, not health care.” If the federal government can order citizens to buy its favored health insurance, it can order us to buy anything. And that, says Mr. Cuccinelli, violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Under that clause, the government can regulate anything you purchase, but not your decision to buy or not to buy — that would be compulsion, a real threat to liberty.

By challenging the mandate, these states are playing the role of check in our system of checks and balances. The health care law lacks a severability clause, which should mean that if the individual mandate is struck down, the whole law goes with it. If not, we’ll have to find another way to pay for it. It won’t be pretty.
Penna Dexter is a conservative activist and frequent panelist on the “Point of View” syndicated radio program. Her weekly commentaries air on the Bott and Moody Radio Networks.

    About the Author

  • Penna Dexter