Frist: Individual Mandate Is a Necessity of Health Reform

Created: September 15, 2009 12:38 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

With much of the focus of the health reform debate on whether or not to include a public option, the individual insurance mandate also being pushed by President Obama hasn’t gotten much attention. That provision — which would require everyone to have health insurance, much like auto insurance is mandated for drivers in most states now — has been blasted by some conservatives as representing government encroachment (generally) and a new tax (particularly).

Yet, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a thoracic surgeon, doesn’t agree. Appearing this morning on the Fox Business Network, Frist said that the individual mandate — and the penalties that would hit those who don’t comply — are “about the only way” to reform the nation’s fractured health care system.

We have 46 million people who don’t have insurance out there. Somebody’s going to have to pay for that. If they can pay for it, they should be responsible to paying for it. And, if not, there are going to be taxes, excise taxes, user taxes on companies like Aetna, on individuals.

“And I’m hard-core Republican,” Frist reminded the audience.