We've seen plenty of posturing already from Republican U.S. Rep. Connie Mack -- now a candidate for Senate -- about the Affordable Care Act -- even last week, he was slamming his opponent, Bill Nelson, for supporting it.
This came into particular focus when the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday affirmed the constitutionality of so-called Obamacare.
Well, turns out Mack's pops was once associated with a post-Hillary-care health reform bill that included an individual mandate to buy health insurance -- and it was introduced by a Republican.
The Consumer Choice Health Security Act of 1994 was a Republican response to the specter of single-payer health care under the Clintons and a follow-up to the HEART Act of 1993, also put forth by Republicans. Much has been made of the fact that Republicans from Newt to Mitt have supported the individual mandate, and this is one example.
Sen. Cornelius McGillicuddy III was the only Florida sponsor of the act and joined a number of other big-name '90s Republicans like Larry Craig, Bob Dole, and Strom Thurmond. A centerpiece of the bill was allowing a tax credit for contributions to a medical-care savings account to be used to pay private health-care providers.
And, lo and behold, here was this:
SEC. 1002. INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITIES.
v(a) IN GENERAL- In accordance with this Act, each eligible individual (other than a medicare-eligible individual)--
(1) must enroll in an applicable health plan for the individual, and
(2) must pay any premium required, consistent with this Act, with respect to such enrollment.
(b) LIMITATION ON DISENROLLMENT- No eligible individual shall be disenrolled from an applicable health plan until the individual--
(1) is enrolled under another applicable health plan, or
(2) becomes a medicare-eligible individual.
So is the younger Connie Mack mad at his own dad for being a totalitarian like Obama?
Not so fast, says the bill's creator.
After the New York Times dredged up the massive Republican flip-flop on the mandate earlier this year, Don Rickles, the original sponsor of the 1994 act, wrote in to attest that he and the cosponsors quickly changed their minds when it came to requiring health insurance:
When first introduced, the bill included tax credits to make health insurance more affordable and tax penalties for those who refused to buy catastrophic coverage. Yes, the tax penalty constituted a mandate.
But shortly after introduction, I obtained unanimous consent to remove the tax penalty. Sponsors of the House companion measure reintroduced the bill without the mandate.
"The suggestion that Republicans dropped support for the mandate only after President Obama proposed it is categorically false," he continued. But it's not that simple: An individual mandate was nowhere near as hated back then as it is today, and people like Gov. Romney continued to embrace it, with little blowback, a decade later.
This is a shining example of how the requirement for an individual to buy private health insurance was more or less accepted by big-name Republicans two decades ago. Call this selective amnesia or an evolved understanding, but individual records speak for themselves.
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