This morning, former Utah Sen. Bob Bennett (R) reminded a meeting of the Bipartisan Policy Center that conservatives supported the individual health insurance mandate during the 1990s, a policy they now condemn as unconstitutional. He said that he still supports the provision — now part of the Affordable Care Act — and noted that the only way the country can continue to provide care to those who can’t afford it is “to have an individual mandate so that everyone who can and everyone who can afford it, is required to have his or her own health insurance. ”
While in the Senate, Bennett sponsored the bipartisan Wyden-Bennett health care bill, which sought to expand coverage by requiring everyone to purchase health care coverage:
BENNETT: I first got involved in it when Mrs. Clinton was the first lady and started putting forth some ideas. And at that time, the conservative approach, to which I gravitated quite naturally, was to have an individual mandate. Now, I am condemned for supporting the individual mandate. I still do, because if you are going to take the position that we do in this country that if someone is ill, we will take care of them regardless of their ability to pay. If someone shows up in the ER bleeding we don’t say, ‘if you don’t show me an insurance card we are going to throw you out in the snow and let you bleed to death.’
Sens. Lindsey Graham, Mike Crapo, Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, and Lamar Alexander also supported the health care bill.