Health care reform

Reason Writers Around Town: Shikha Dalmia on ObamaCare and Forced Coverage

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With unemployment rising and the economy swooning, ObamaCare has nothing going for it anymore. So why do Republicans seem so hopeless and hapless in defeating it? One reason, says Shikha Dalmia in her latest Forbes column, is that they have focused on the wrong issue. Instead of exposing the dangers of forcing Americans to purchase coverage, Republicans have droned on wonkishly about the "public option."

She writes:

But a mandate will fundamentally alter the relationship between Americans and their government. Instead of the government being accountable to them, they will become accountable to their government. No less than the Congressional Budget Office—a non-partisan government agency—once admitted as much. "A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action, it noted. The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States."

If the government can force Americans to buy coverage on the threat of fines or even imprisonment—an option that Nancy Pelosi has pointedly refused to rule out—every other government diktat becomes small potatoes by contrast. In fact, it becomes necessary. If uninsured Americans must buy coverage, why shouldn't other Americans be taxed to subsidize them? Why shouldn't the insurance industry be required to sell them coverage? Why shouldn't government set insurance prices to ensure affordability? Why shouldn't doctors and hospitals be asked to charge only "reasonable" rates—or offer only government-sanctioned treatments? Nothing about ObamaCare fundamentally changes so long as the individual mandate remains intact….

Read the whole thing here.