Why Repealing Health Mandate Is The Same As Repealing Consumer Protections

On Thursday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced two separate measures to repeal “the unconstitutional individual mandate and the job-killing employer mandate, the most egregious elements of this devastating health law.” Now, in a new interview with the National Review the conservative senator who had once supported the individual requirement to stop health reform in 1993, explains his strategy of targeting the individual requirement:

“By attacking the mandates, we take away the Democrats’ arguments against our calls for full repeal, where they say we’d take away protections for people with preexisting conditions,” Hatch explains. “ Focusing on the mandates enables us to shine a light on the most unconstitutional aspects of this lousy piece of legislation. It compels them to talk specifics. Let’s remember that these mandates are the central tenets of Obamacare. Gut them and the law falls apart.” […]

President Obama, if reelected, will try to move the country to a single-payer system. That’s my theory, at least,” he says. “They know this system isn’t going to work, so they’ll be ready to say, ‘Why don’t we let thegovernment take care of it, and we won’t tax anybody.’ That’s what they want to see happen. And if that happens, it’ll be over.” What’ll be over, senator? “The greatest country in the world,” he says. “We’ll lose our status as the greatest.”

The single-payer paranoia aside, all of this makes very little sense. By revoking the mandate, Hatch is eliminating the incentive for younger and healthier individuals to purchase coverage and is actually encouraging people to buy insurance only when they become sick. Under these circumstances, the pool of applicants will eventually become weighed down with sick people, increasing costs for everyone and actually forcing healthier people out of the pool. The result is a death spiral in which coverage becomes increasingly expensive and undoes all the consumer protections that Hatch is touting — i.e. protections for people with preexisting conditions. And it’s these increasing costs that Hatch is not very concerned about. As his staffer explained to me on Thursday, “[cost] might be the concerns of some, our concern is about the constitutional questions about it.”