Obama’s Medicaid Mandate

by John McClaughry

Last week the Congressional Budget Office projected the impact and costs of the Republican-drafted American Health Care Act. Republican health care expert Avik Roy noticed something really peculiar in the conclusions.

Writes Roy, “According to the CBO, able bodied adults on Medicaid receive about $6 thousand a year in government health insurance benefits. They pay no premiums and minimal copays. You’d think that eligible individuals would need no prodding to sign up for such a benefit.”

“And yet, according to its analysis of the Republican replacement bill, the CBO believes that there are five million Americans who wouldn’t sign up for Medicaid if it weren’t for ObamaCare’s individual mandate. That’s right, five million people need the threat of a $695 fine to sign up for a free program that offers them $6,000 worth of subsidized health insurance.” He adds that that’s more than 20% of the 24 million people that CBO – dubiously – claims would end up uninsured under the Republican bill.

Roy points out that under Obama, people who didn’t check the box on their income tax return saying “I have insurance” don’t face a penalty for not checking, which makes the penalty unenforceable by the IRS.

Maybe if ObamaCare offered twenty thousand dollars worth of health insurance, it wouldn’t have to fine people to accept it for free. When we have to fine people for not accepting thousands of dollars of free stuff, something is really wrong.

- John MCClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.
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