Sam Stein reports that Senator Ron Wyden is now against the mandate (emphasis mine):
One of the most innovative voices in the health care debate, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), is accelerating the process of exempting his state from some of the national reforms passed under President Barack Obama.
The Oregon Democrat is seeking to take advantage of a provision he helped write into the legislation that allows states to set up their own health care systems as long as they meet minimal requirements established by the Department of Health and Human Services. In a letter to the state’s Health Authority office, Wyden announced that he will introduce legislation to accelerate the start date for state waivers from 2017 to 2014, if not earlier for Oregon specifically.
In addition, he strongly suggested that the state should use the provision to exempt Oregon from the individual mandate, which would penalize those individuals who refuse to purchase insurance coverage.
I would ignore this usually, but Sen. Wyden is among the most knowledgeable lawmakers we have with respect to health policy. His Wyden/Bennet plan, most recently known as The Healthy Americans Act, is one of the most bi-partisan health care reform efforts in maybe, well, ever. It even showed up during health care reform as “The Free Choice Proposal“. It was radical, in that it could eliminate the employer based system we have now. But it included many regulations and ratings that liberals liked, while also placing cost control more at the level of the consumer, which conservatives liked. His plans have had the support of a number of knowledgeable people all over the ideological spectrum.
It also always included an individual mandate.
I don’t know why Sen. Wyden now wants to get rid of it. If I had to guess, it’s probably because the individual mandate has become unpopular. But if there’s another explanation, I’d love to hear it.
For now, this feels like politics. As I’ve said before, the PPACA wasn’t my reform of choice. But I don’t see how it works without an individual mandate. Sen. Wyden knows this too, I’d imagine.
If this is just politics, then “boo”.