Obama Rejects Mandates in Health Care Plan

The United States has an excellent health care system but there are problems with access. The most serious problems are seen by those who must purchase insurance themselves, especially if they have  medical problems. The cost also creates problems for American businesses which must compete with foreign companies. To attempt to remedy this problem, John Kerry promoted a plan which a survey by The National Journal chose as the best plan of all the candidates running in 2003. An important component of the plan, and one reason I supported it, was that the plan was voluntary with Kerry deciding to reject mandates.

Skip ahead four years and the same problems with regards to health care persist but the solutions offered by the Democrats have changed. Most Democratic candidates now include mandates for coverage in their plans. The standard has changed from assisting those who cannot afford coverage to being universal, including for those who do not desire the coverage. John Edwards even calls for making preventative care itself mandatory.

The lone exception among the Democrats is Barack Obama who, as did John Kerry in 2003, has decided against including mandates in his plan. Obama has received criticism from many Democrats, many of whom have been quick to attack Obama when he has strayed from the party line, such as when he also spoke about ensuring the long term viability of Social Security. Obama has repeated his opposition to mandates while campaigning in Iowa:

Obama said such mandates for health care coverage is a wrong step. He told a crowd of about 350 people at Thomas Jefferson High School that his plan would lower costs on average by about $2,500 per family, making health care affordable for all without placing demands.

He compared Clinton and Edwards’ proposed mandates to car insurance, noting that some sates with required auto insurance still have a pocket of 15 or more percent that still go without coverage even though it’s illegal.

“Their essential argument is the only way to get everybody covered is if the government forces you to buy health insurance. If you don’t buy it, then you’ll be penalized in some way,” Obama said. “What I have said repeatedly is that the reason people don’t have health insurance isn’t because they don’t want it, it’s because they can’t afford it.”

Obama’s views may make him less popular among some Democrats but will be more acceptable to independents. This might not be enough to win the Democratic nomination, but as many independents vote in both Iowa and New Hampshire his support among independents just might turn into a strength.

Hillary Clinton has been attacking Obama for lack of experience but perhaps one of Obama’s strength is from learning from the experiences of others, as Michael Kinsley has suggested:

My candidate, at least at the moment, is Obama. When I hear him discussing issues, I hear intelligence and reflection and almost a joy in thinking it through…That willingness, even eagerness, to figure things out seems to me more valuable than any amount of experience in allowing issues to wash over you as they do our incumbent president.

Warren Buffett likes to say, when people tell him that they’ve learned from experience, that the trick is to learn from other people’s experience. George W. Bush will leave behind a rich compost heap of experience for his successor to sort through and learn from.

In the case of heath care, perhaps Obama has learned from the failure not of George Bush but of Hillary Clinton, whose health plan as First Lady was too complex and placed far more restrictions on Americans than most Americans will tolerate.

Be Sociable, Share!

No Comments

2 Trackbacks

Leave a comment