The former Senate majority leader has written a piece in U.S. News and World Report pushing for a mandate on health coverage:
I believe in limited government and individual responsibility, cherish the freedom to choose, and generally oppose individual mandates—except where markets fail, individuals suffer, and society pays a hefty price. Let’s face it, in a country as productive and advanced as ours, every American deserves affordable access to healthcare delivered at the right time. And they don’t have it today.
It is time for an individual health insurance mandate for a minimum level of health coverage. Catastrophic coverage would be an appropriate place to start.
Frist goes on to say how this will reduce the cost of coverage since people won’t use the emergency room as their doctor anymore. Honestly I don’t see how mandating catastrophic coverage would do that. The currently uninsured would now be forking out money for this catastrophic coverage, or maybe a fine and that will leave them with less to spend on coverage. That means the current uninsured who might have enough money to fork out for a doctor’s visit when they fall ill won’t have that extra money. They will still rely upon the emergency room and end up with bills they can’t afford to pay.
A mandate can not be confused as a sole solution to drive down costs. For a mandate to work it has to be coupled with extreme cost cutting measures. People should be encouraged to seek preventive care, not feel like they are being financially punished for it.
A pubic option like Medicare for all would be a great way to drive down these costs. It isn’t an attempt to push the insurance giants out of business, just make them operate more fairly. This could even work to the benefit of the insurance giants since they would now be able to offer supplemental programs to all, like Medicare Advantage. Points like this seem to have been absent when debating a strong public option.
It is good though to see Frist put some support behind what the Democrats are working on in the Senate. It gives me pause to think of where we might be today if Frist was still the Republican leader in the Senate instead of Mitch McConnell.