Included in both the House and Senate health care reform bills each chamber passed last year is a mandate for individuals to buy health insurance. Offering support for the measure, President Obama has compared the idea to states’ requirements that those who drive cars must purchase auto insurance. “Under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance — just as most states require you to carry auto insurance,” Obama has said.
However, Republicans are strongly opposed to this provision, with many even claiming (wrongly) that the mandate is unconstitutional. Mike Huckabee picked up on this point last night on Fox News. “People don’t want [it],” Huckabee complained. “And 34 different attorney generals across America are prepared to file a lawsuit against the federal government on the constitutional grounds that you cannot require a citizen to purchase something in order to be a citizen.” But then, Huckabee inadvertently made the case for the mandate:
HUCKABEE: No one is required to own or drive a car. A lot of people in New York City where I am right now, they live their whole lives and never own an automobile. So they don’t have to have a car therefore they don’t have to have insurance. You can’t live and breathe without some form of health. If the requirement is that you have to have health insurance, it’s not just you have to have it if you plan to be healthy or you have it if you plan to breathe and inhale and exhale. That’s the difference here.
So yes, driving is a privilege. Not everybody has to drive, but everybody has to live.
What Huckabee so eloquently stated is precisely the point. Those who choose to drive must buy insurance. But we don’t necessarily choose to live. As Huckabee noted, “everybody has to live.” And he’s right, the “difference” is, no one is forcing anyone to drive, but staying alive is an absolute necessity. Therefore, having health insurance is a more cost effective way to satisfy that goal.
The President is a convert to the insurance mandate provision, having opposed it during his run for the presidency in 2008. However, most Republicans are converts to opposing it. For example, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a key player in the Senate’s health care negotiations, once supported the mandate, has cited the very same auto insurance analogy Obama used. But now, due the the GOP’s obstruct-at-all-costs tactics, the Iowa senator is “very reluctant to go along with an individual mandate.”