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Mandate requiring health insurance proposed by conservative group in 1989

Published: July 2, 2012

Conservatives insist that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is an unconstitutional power grab by federal government liberals. The idea of an individual mandate requiring health insurance was first proposed by the conservative Heritage Foundation in 1989 and embraced by conservative economists as a free-market alternative to a publicly funded system during the Clinton administration. In other words, this health care law isn't what progressives wanted but rather settled for.

Mitt Romney passed a virtually identical law during his time as governor of Massachusetts and while criticizing Obama's law, ignores his own legislation despite its quantitatively positive contributions to health care outcomes. In 2011, fewer than 5 percent of Massachusetts' residents were uninsured versus 22 percent in Oklahoma. Conservatives only abandoned the individual mandate after it was finally (but tentatively) embraced by Democrats such as President Obama.

With George W. Bush appointee Chief Justice John Roberts' decision to uphold nearly all of the law, the constitutionality of this health care law is no longer in question. If Romney and the Republican U.S. House actually “repeal and replace” this law, it would be a big surprise to any reasonable person. Regardless, it would be nice to hear Romney's replacement proposal rather than just daily criticism.

Matthew McCree, Oklahoma City


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