No Individual Health Care Mandate (regardless of court decisions) - Do you still support the bill?

I was watching a debate (I think it was on MSNBC) on Judge Hudson’s decision. The general consensus was the law does not work without an individual mandate. Then one of the debate members brought up that there already is not a real individual mandate because while there is a penalty if you don’t get insurance, there is no penalty if you don’t pay the penalty. The bill’s supporters were apparently so scared of being seen as throwing people into federal prison that they eliminated any real enforcement of the mandate.

Looking this up, it seems there is no penalty, either civil or criminal, for not paying the penalty. Nor can property be seized.

From the Joint Committee on Taxation:

http://www.jct.gov/publications.html?func=startdown&id=3673

The basic situation is this:

Citizen: I hate the health care law. I don’t want health care.
Government: Then we will penalize you.
Citizen: I won’t pay. Now what?
Government: Now nothing.

Sixteen months later:

Citizen: I wish had gotten health care because now I am sick. I guess I will see what I can find.
Health insurer: Oh fuck, I can’t charge him higher rates for his pre-existing condition.
Citizen: I love the health care law.

Can you still support this bill since it does not really have an individual mandate? Do you think the bill needs to be amended to send people to federal prison if they don’t pay the penalty? Can the bill survive in its current form (without a penalty for not paying the penalty)?

No. This was one of the big positives about the law. I, in my 40s and in my peak earning years, am paying for my and my spouse’s insurance, my parent’s insurance (they are on Medicare), my children’s insurance (in elementary school), insurance for the indigent population (medicaid), and insurance for those people who are not indigent but do not get insurance through work and do not feel that they need it as they are mostly in their mid-twenties/ lower thirties and are invulnerable. At let’s face it, they don’t need it, my tax dollars will pay for their treatment at the ER if no where else. I don’t really have too much of a problem donating some of my money in the form of taxes to take care of of my fellow citizens, but the current system is very inefficient. Insurance costs are skewed because the risk pool excludes a large proportion of the population, those that are healthiest. Medicare is the worst in this regard as the only people in the pool are the highest risk groups. Single payer would have been the best as we could spread the risks and costs equitably though the services would probably be limited by necessity. Meh, let those who can afford it buy an upgrade.
Without the mandate, the health care bill is just going to make my insurance and taxes that much more burdensome.

Yes, I still support it because it’s better than nothing. I don’t think the law should be repealed and replaced, I think it should be reworked.

Out of curiosity, if the mandate is found to be unconstitutional by the SCOTUS, would that set a precedent that other government mandates are also unconstitutional. Would I be able to sue my state government for forcing me to by auto insurance?

That’s just the problem I am raising. There is no enforcement or new penalty for not paying the not-getting-insurance penalty, so there is no real mandate.

How does the bill even work without the mandate? The point of the mandate was that it required healthy people who pay low premiums to get coverage, which would bring the insurance companies additional revenue that they would need since they were going to have to spend more money providing coverage for people who were sick.

Only if your goal is to manufacture a pretext to make more changes, by creating an inherently unstable system.

No, because compulsary auto insurance is there to protect other people from the damage you can cause to other people as a consequence of driving a ton of metal around, as a condition of doing so on public roads. Compulsary health insurance is there to cover damage to you.

I don’t know, but would you pay an inevitable unenforceable penalty? Or would you just wait until you got sick to get coverage?

It seems like there either needs to be a penalty, including possible jail time, for not paying the original penalty or the while idea of a mandate is unworkable.

No, I don’t think people should be sent to jail for not buying health insurance. I am not sure how that issue would be dealt with but I suspect you’d see wages being garnished.

Read the congressional report I quoted. They can’t do that either.

The plan doesn’t really work without the mandate. If they get rid of the mandate, they have defeated health care reform in its current form.

I’m sure that’s the plan!

I was viewing the mandate as protecting other people from me, just like auto insurance. With the mandate, if I get sick, I won’t be dependent on other people’s money to treat me.

That’s why they didn’t include a severability clause. If any part of it is struck down then it won’t work so it might as well be completely struck down.

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/07/lost-in-the-shuffle-the-overarching-goals-of-health-reform/

Let’s say the courts uphold the mandate as written, does it really mandate anything if there if no ultimately enforceable punishment?

That would the idea, yes.

In another section of the same document:

That looks to me like it allows the IRS to deduct the penalty from refunds or credits, no?

What this effectively does (without the mandate or any enforceable one anyway) is give insurance companies a license to go up across the board on rates.

How does this get rationalized by Obama?

What people have refunds and credits?

Hint: It isn’t the rich or mostly middle class.

The OP, though, says that the actual law itself doesn’t really have a mandate. I can’t track down any counter-cites, since Google seems overwhelmed on this subject with the current court case.

If it’s true that the actual law doesn’t have an effective mandate, it is a problem, but I don’t see how that could have been the plan from the start.

But that is the only way they get it, so you just need to game your withholding.