News Story

Ending the Individual Mandate

by U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland

On June 15, the U.S. House of Representatives considered an amendment that would have repealed the individual mandate in the federal health care law.  As a Presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Obama opposed an individual mandate.  The recent amendment failed, on a vote of 230-187, but 21 House Democrats crossed party lines to vote with the Republicans.  Only one Republican, Rep. Joseph Cao of Louisiana, voted to save the individual mandate.

Eleven Republicans and four Democrats did not vote on the measure. Given the nearly unanimous support of the Republicans who did vote, this likely means that support for repeal of the individual mandate stands in the range of a 234-199 vote.  Thus, a Republican gain of 18 seats in the next election - or a gain of less than that much and more Democrat defections - could provide enough support in the U.S. House for a reversal of the individual mandate.

The amendment to kill the individual mandate was introduced by U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Midland, and was opposed by every single Democrat from Michigan.

Rep. Camp's floor speech in support of his amendment is reprinted below.


Congressman Dave Camp
Ranking Member, Committee on Ways and Means
Motion to Recommit Floor Statement

With the unemployment rate stuck at nearly 10 percent, far too many Americans and small businesses are struggling to get by. While the bill before us contains some limited benefits, it does little to help small businesses create the jobs so many Americans desperately need.

The Motion to Recommit the underlying bill keeps the underlying bill intact and provides real help to Americans by repealing one of the most onerous provisions of the new health care law: the individual mandate that - while exempting illegal immigrants - forces Americans to buy government-approved health insurance or pay a tax if they don't. 

The federal government has never required its citizens to purchase a particular product before, and doing so with health insurance violates basic principles of freedom and individual choice. No American should be forced to purchase health insurance they don't want or can't afford.

This provision is so controversial that 20 states and the nation's leading small business organization - the National Federation of Independent Business - have filed a lawsuit questioning its constitutionality.

While legal experts will soon start arguing that case, we already know that the individual mandate tax penalty will fall hardest middle- and low-income Americans. According to the Congressional Budget Office, in 2016, nearly 75 percent of Americans who pay this tax will have household incomes below 500 percent of the Federal Poverty Level - that's roughly $73,000 for a married couple with no children.

CBO also tells us that the Democrats' health care law will increase premiums for millions of Americans by up to 13 percent - That's a premium increase of about $2,100. As the Democrats' health care bill drives up the cost of health care premiums even higher, it will become more and more unaffordable for American families to comply with the mandate. 

Repealing this mandate will directly benefit millions of Americans and uphold the freedoms upon which this nation was founded. It has the added benefit of eliminating the need for the IRS to hire thousands of additional employees - possibly as many as 16,500 - just to enforce the new health care law.

The recently enacted health care law is bad for workers, bad for employers and bad for America. Clearly, we need to repeal and replace this law with common sense reforms that will actually lower health care costs and let Americans keep the plan they have and like.

And let me remind my colleagues of a quote from then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama: "A mandate means that in some fashion, everybody will be forced to buy health insurance, but I believe the problem is not that folks are trying to avoid getting health care, the problem is they can't afford it.

This health care law increases premiums by $2,100 for millions of American families and requires them to buy this government-approved insurance that they cannot afford. 

I urge my colleagues to stand for the American people and vote for the Motion to Recommit.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.