Atlantic Umpire: Did HRC Oppose A Mandate In The 90s?

That's the claim from the Obama campaign today.

But the charge is hard to square with the fact that Clinton's 1993 Health Security Act did indeed contain an individual mandate.

What Clinton opposed was an a la carte mandate proposed by John Chafee, one that would have scrapped the entire employer based system in favor of a government mandate that everyone purchase insurance -- without a government guarantee of help to those who couldn't afford it.

Indeed, the plan had little in the way of subsidies for those who couldn't afford it -- they'd be covered, for the time being, under existing government programs. Chafee's plan was premised on the idea that only with a large enough pool of premiums from young, healthy people could the insurance industry contain costs and offer basic insurance products at a lower rate.

Chafee's plan was called by Democrats the "individual mandate" plan, which sounds enticing to today's ears... but it's not the same as the plan Clinton proposed in September of 2007, which includes generous government subsidies for the poor and a menu of options for small businesses (a very modified version of "pay or play").

Politically, it's going to be hard to argue that Clinton's 1993 plan, which popularized the concept of "government-run universal health care," was somehow not premised on the idea of required, universal coverage.

"For that is how most of my colleagues, Republican and Democrat, enter the Senateā€¦their words distorted, and their motives questioned," Obama writes in The Audacity of Hope. As Senator Clinton might today say: "Indeed."