Labor Unions Opponents Of Health Insurance Mandates

Armen Hareyan's picture
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The"most vociferous opponents" of the California health care reformlegislation, which the state Senate rejected on Monday, "were not fiscalconservatives but labor unions that launched a last-minute revolt against itsmost crucial feature: an individual mandate that would have forced everyone tobuy coverage," Shikha Dalmia, a senior analyst at the Reason Foundation, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. Dalmiawrites that "many Californiaunions argued that a mandate would force uninsured, middle-income workingfamilies to divert money from more pressing needs toward coverage whose priceand quality they cannot control."

She adds that the failure of the Californialegislation has "national political implications." According toDalmia, although Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton(N.Y.) has "denounced" rival Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) for "refusing to include anindividual mandate in his health care plan," he "seems to understandthe perverse side effects of an individual mandate." Obama is "surelycorrect that part of the reason 45 million Americans are uninsured is not thatno one is forcing them to buy it but that they can't afford it," Dalmiawrites.

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In addition, the recently implemented Massachusettshealth insurance law, which served as the "inspiration" for both the California legislation and the Clinton proposal, "has inflated demand,which, combined with onerous regulations on insurance suppliers, has triggeredpremium increases of 12%" for 2008, according to Dalmia. She writes that Massachusetts"won't be able to fully shield those it subsidizes from the premiumincreases" and that "uninsured folks who don't qualify for governmenthelp really get pounded."

Dalmia concludes, "Should Hillary Clinton ever be in a position to bullypeople into buying coverage, a coalition of labor and fiscal conservativesmight well do to HillaryCare what it just did to GovernatorCare" (Dalmia, WallStreet Journal, 1/31).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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