07 February 2008

Mandates Do Not Equal Universal Coverage

There's a well reasoned piece by RJ Eskow at Huffington Post on mandates. He points out the maddening nature of Clinton claiming that Obama's health plan isn't universal because it doesn't include mandates.

A lot of good progressive people are fooled on this. Particularly galling was the woman who wrote in some place to express her dismay over not being able to vote for Obama because she was in favor of universal health care. Geez. Eskow points out that the Massachusetts' plan is more "mirage than miracle," and that "the plan will leave 20% of that state's uninsured without coverage, and the real number may be higher. Why? Because there is a wide band of people who would suffer financial hardship if compelled to pay the premiums, and it's financially infeasible to subsidize them all."
And look at what mandates might do to a family of four. While Clinton won't tell us the percentage of income she'd tie to mandates, many analysts have been using 10%. If premium assistance is provided up to 300% of the poverty level, a family of four trying to survive on $75,000 could be forced to pay $7,500 to insurance companies or in health copayments. The alternative could be tax penalties or garnished wages. That's profoundly unfair. I also believe it's a serious misread of American political culture to think that kind of mandate could ever get through the legislative process....

Adding 10% to struggling families' financial burdens is nothing more than a highly regressive tax to be paid to wealthy insurance companies, which is why insurance companies prefer the Clinton plan.

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