Can semantics save mandatory health insurance?
If this weren’t such a deadly serious issue — and one fraught with such danger down the road — I’d be getting a huge giggle out of the way mandatory health care is twisting on the spit of hairsplitting definitions.
Apparently, our Constitution, as interpreted by opponents to health care reform, prohibits our government from requiring that everyone, sick or healthy, young or old, have health insurance — or pay a penalty if they don’t. That interferes with commerce, the naysayers insist, and thus is a no-no for the federal government to do.
Ah, but what if we say that everyone must buy health insurance or pay an extra tax instead? That’s perfectly okay, federal government certainly has the right to tax.
What’s so irritating about this is that of course it’s not a tax. Who ever heard of selective taxation on people who refuse to buy a product? Allowing the government to so thoroughly broaden the definition of a tax — and thus, broaden its ability to levy more of them — opens a ghastly can of worms.
But allowing young, healthy people to go without insurance opens an even larger can of even uglier wrigglers. This is one of the few issues on which I side with the insurance industry: If we are going to force them to insure everyone, despite preexisting conditions, they have got to be able to bring their costs down by insuring a pool of folks whose health care needs won’t exceed their premiums. That’s simple economics.
So yeah, if we have to call it a tax to get it passed, then do it. But I don’t have to like it.