Republicans And The Health Insurance Mandate

A lot of Republicans, including those quixotic House reactionaries, are talking these days about killing the Affordable Care Act. Much of the opposition to the law is centered on the provision that requires individuals to purchase health insurance.  Here in Missouri, Proposition C overwhelmingly passed in August of last year, the purpose of which was to thwart the imposition on Missourians of the health insurance mandate. 

The argument goes something like this: If people want to buy health insurance, it’s up to them, and in the words of Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, “they should not have it imposed upon them by government.”

Fair enough. Most of us don’t like to be forced to do things. We prefer the voluntary approach.  But when you ask folks like Orrin Hatch about what to do with people who don’t want to buy insurance and inevitably show up at hospitals looking for treatment and without money to pay, the usual reply goes something like this: Well, we can garnish their wages, if they have any, and make them pay that way.


You mean it’s okay to set up a situation in which such people won’t be forced to purchase insurance out of some high-minded principle, but when they show up at hospital emergency rooms to obtain the most expensive care possible and without money to pay, we won’t hesitate—through the force of law—to take the money anyway?

Does anyone see a not-so-slight contradiction in that argument?

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