Should Conservatives Be Madder About Individual Mandate?

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Politics Daily columnist Patricia Murphy wonders if they shouldn't be. While opponents of President Obama's health care reforms have spent most of their time blasting the public option as government overreach, Murphy writes, there's another, debatably much larger, overreach in the requirement that all Americans by insurance (except those who live near the poverty line or can't afford it). Coincidentally, this issue is partly why insurance companies and conservative activists don't see completely eye to eye on health care reform: insurers love the individual mandate--it gives them millions off new customers--and trading that with guaranteed issue of insurance for everyone has been the key to bringing health insurers into the discussion and behind Obama's effort, at least at first.

Its also an issue that separates different kinds of Republicans--like Mitt Romney, who passed an individual mandate in Massachusetts, and the tea partyers. As Murphy puts it:

The issue itself lies at the Republican fault lines of individual responsibility and individual freedom, pitting pro-business pragmatists against movement activists.

Why wasn't it a huge issue for conservatives this August? Because the public option and misinterpretations of Obama's plan dominated the discussion. But if an individual mandate becomes the next most offensive thing about health insurance reform to conservatives, it could show some dividing lines in the opposition to Obama.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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