Sorry, Ann. I have adored you as a commentator, as you know, and appreciate your kind words about me in the past. But in discussing the individual mandate in your piece last week, "Three Cheers for RomneyCare," you honestly don't know what you are talking about.
In the process, you are transgressing on my own work and past policy achievements, and grossly undermining the policy and political case against Obamacare. Read on, and I will explain in full.
It was me, working for and with conservative health policy guru John Goodman, who first rang the alarm bell for conservatives over the individual mandate in the early 1990s. As I explained recently in this space, it was we who led the fight to kill the Heritage Foundation health bill at that time.
That bill had been introduced by Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK) because he thought it was the conservative alternative to HillaryCare. Leaving Heritage over the matter and working for Goodman's National Center for Policy Analysis, I went through the bill line by line and wrote up all the conservative objections, which primarily stemmed from the individual mandate. I then got my critique signed by 37 major conservative leaders.
It was the only time you could find Phyllis Schlafly and Ed Crane signing on to the same document. Others who signed included Paul Weyrich, David Keene, and Grover Norquist. It was a Who's Who of conservative leaders.
When I delivered the document to Nickles' office, he had the good sense to pull the bill. Stuart Butler was furious with me, and it has ruined our previously close friendship to this day. I received awards for this work from the American Conservative Union and the Eagle Forum. That is because the Heritage health plan with its individual mandate was detested throughout the conservative movement, and there was broad approbation for my work in practically figuring out how to pull them back.
Why the Individual Mandate Equals Socialized Medicine
Here is why the individual mandate inevitably leads to full-blown socialized medicine, as it has with Obamacare: When the government mandates that you have to buy health insurance, then it has to specify what health insurance is required to satisfy the mandate. This means politics is involved in deciding what must be included and covered by that insurance.