On the same day that the Supreme Court announced it will rule on the legal challenges to the individual insurance mandate in the Affordable Care Act comes word from CNN that public support for the highly controversial insurance mandate has risen in the past few months.
According to the poll, 52% of Americans favor mandatory health insurance, up from 44% in June. The survey indicates that 47% oppose the health insurance mandate, down from 54% in early summer.
"The health insurance mandate has gained most support since June among older Americans and among lower-income Americans," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "A majority of independents opposed the measure in June, but 52 percent of them now favor it."
This shift is quite striking, especially given that most other polls are not showing a similar increase in support for the overall health care law. Conservatives continue to decry the insurance mandate as an un-American infringement on personal liberty, and the White House and congressional Democrats have not exactly been manning the barricades in its defense. So why would support for it be increasing? Is there anyone in a position of prominence who has been out there making the case for why it's important to require people to get health coverage?
Oh, right: there's this guy. And he's been making the case better than anyone -- on TV shows with millions of viewers, no less!
What we did in our state was this. We said, look, we're finding people that can afford insurance, health insurance, that are going to the hospital and getting the state to pay for them. Taxpayers are picking up hundreds of millions of dollars of costs from people who are free riders. We said, you know what? We're going to insist that those people who can afford to pay for themselves do so. We believe in personal responsibility. And if the people aren't willing to do that, then they're going to help the government pay for them. That was our conclusion. (August 11, 2011 Fox News debate in Ames, Iowa)
We mandate kids go to school. We mandate if you are going to drive a car, you've got to have insurance. States provide mandates within the rights of their constitution. In our state, we said this, we've got people who are looking at health care like welfare. They can afford to care for themselves, but they don't want to pay for it. We said we are not going to let that go on. These free riders are abusing the system. And we are going to insist they either get insurance or pay their own way. But no more showing up at the hospital and expecting government to pay for them. This is, in my view, a conservative point of view. Insist on personal responsibility. (June 2, 2011 interview with Sean Hannity)
What we found in my state was that we had a number of citizens who recognized that they could get care -- coverage, health care, even though they didn't have insurance. That's actually true in most states. If -- if you don't have insurance and you develop a serious illness of some kind -- cancer or a heart attack -- you can -- you can get care, emergency care. You may not get the preventative care you need, you may not get all the follow-up care you'd need, but depending upon the state and the circumstances, you can get care without insurance. And many citizens who could afford insurance, having learned that they could get it -- get care for free, were saying, I'm not going to -- I'm not going to buy insurance. If -- if I'm healthy and strong, why would I get insurance? Because if something really bad happens to me, if I get cancer or something awful like that, I can go to the hospital and I'm going to get treated for free. And this was what we call the free-rider problem. It wasn't a large number, but a growing number. And we found in our state we were spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year giving out care to people, many of whom could afford to buy their own insurance. This free-rider problem was a -- was a real issue. (May 12, 2011 speech in Ann Arbor, Michigan)
The man's good. If this presidential campaign thing doesn't work out, maybe the White House can bring him on as a consultant?