Colorado is an interesting place to be this summer, as the health care reform debate continues to play out – in the courts now, rather than in town halls and legislative sessions. Our Attorney General, Republican John Suthers, is part of the group of AGs from 20 states who are challenging the legality of a federal mandate requiring people to have health insurance. And our Governor, Bill Ritter Jr., is one of four Democratic governors of those states who disagree with the position taken by the Attorneys General.
Ritter and the other three governors have asked a federal judge to consider their arguments in favor of upholding Obama’s Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act, despite the fact that their Attorneys General have filed a lawsuit to block one of the most important changes included in the new law. The mandate is a viable way to make guaranteed-issue health insurance an affordable possibility. There are other options that could be worked into the system via the tax code, but one way or another, we have to have everyone paying into the health insurance system in order to be able to provide guaranteed issue health insurance to everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions.
The Attorneys General who are trying to block the mandate are arguing that it’s unconstitutional to require people to purchase a product against their will. But by that argument, isn’t is unconstitutional to require private health insurance companies to accept all applicants, regardless of medical history? The provision in the new law that would make pre-existing conditions a non-issue is overwhelmingly popular, and yet the provision requiring everyone to have health insurance isn’t nearly as popular. But we can’t really have one without the other.