To the Editor
Michael Cannon’s piece on the Massachusetts health program (“Romney’s Folly — Health-care mandates are a middle-class tax” —August 10) creates the erroneous impression that Gov. Mitt Romney and the Heritage Foundation wanted to impose a coverage mandate on employers. Not true.
Governor Romney, like Heritage, steadfastly opposed the employer mandate. He vetoed it, and the Democrats in the state legislature overrode it.
As for the individual mandate enacted into law, that wasn’t Romney’s idea, or Heritage’s either. To cope with an estimated $1.3 billion in uncompensated care costs shifted onto taxpayers, Romney originally proposed giving Massachusetts citizens a choice: either buy health insurance or, if not, post a bond to cover one’s expenses associated with emergency-room care. If that is a mandate, then it is a mandate to pay one’s own bills. There is nothing conservative or “libertarian” about making taxpayers responsible for the consequences of one’s personal irresponsibility. Heritage felt the governor’s formulation of a personal choice — “insurance or bond: you decide” — was a practical and acceptable way to solve the problem of the “free rider” and the costs of uncompensated care: the “mandate” on taxpayers.
Cannon may disagree with that approach to solving a tough problem, or the governor’s decision to sign the bill, but he also has a duty to stick to the facts. The facts are available in Heritage’s analysis of the law at the time of enactment.
Robert E. Moffit
Director, Center for Health Policy Studies
The Heritage Foundation