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The Conservative Case for the Individual Mandate

‘Tis the season of election campaigning and there is nothing quite so entertaining as watching politicians pensively reconsider their stances on important issues (er, I mean flip-flop). One of the biggest bones of contention in healthcare reform is the so-called individual mandate, seen as Big Brother imposing his socialist grip on freedom-loving Americans.

So where exactly does that mean? And who came up with that idea?

In an LA Times blog post, Walter Zelman, Chairman of the Department of Public Health for Los Angeles County, poses the question,

Would conservatives rather have government impose a financial requirement on people who choose not to buy healthcare, or have those who behave responsibly bear the financial burden of a few?

Although many conservatives today see the individual mandate as another example of government over-reach, the idea originated with moderate Republicans in the 1980s and 1990s, with Senators John Chafee (R – RI) and Bob Dole (R – KS) among them (as well as one Congressman Newt Gingrich). Their argument is that every adult that can afford insurance should buy it or else face some sort of penalty, else the rest of society has to pick up the tab. “Is it fair for the responsible to have to pay more in order to protect the rights of the irresponsible?”

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