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Friday, September 11, 2009

Obama offers the insurers their Holy Grail

Champagne corks must have been popping at UnitedHealth's corporate headquarters following President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress. My column explains:
Obama didn't give specifics Wednesday night, but a mandate needs an enforcement mechanism. The mechanism on the table currently is Sen. Max Baucus's proposal to fine every family without the minimum-required health insurance $3,800.
It's an odd way to "cover everyone." It's like delivering on the old political promise of "a chicken in every pot" by fining everyone who doesn't buy a chicken.
The individual mandate has been the Holy Grail for the insurance companies. What business wouldn't love similar treatment? Maybe Apple can get a provision stating (to use Obama's phrasing) "individuals will be required to carry basic music players." Perhaps Smith & Wesson can get its own individual mandate.

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