The grounds for the Republican Party’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act are far from a single coherent argument. It is all the more confusing because one of the health care reform’s key provisions, the individual insurance mandate, has conservative origins. The requirement that individuals be required to purchase health insurance first emerged in Republican health care reform bills introduced in 1993 as alternatives to the Clinton administration’s plan.
That mandate was also a prominent feature of the Massachusetts plan passed under Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006. According to Romney, “we got the idea of an individual mandate from [Newt Gingrich], and [Newt] got it from the Heritage Foundation,” Forbes reports. Furthermore, as Bill Keller argued in an op-ed for The New York Times, the GOP should be “the people who ought to be most vigorously applauding this success story” because the reform of the United States’s “overpriced, underperforming health care system” was done almost entirely with market incentives instead of government decree.
The fact that the idea of the individual mandate developed out of GOP rhetoric proves that the party is not opposed to the thought of making insurance affordable to millions of Americans. “Many states now require passengers in automobiles to wear seat-belts for their own protection,” Stuart Butler, a health care expert for the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation, wrote in a 1989 brief titled Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans. “Many others require anybody driving a car to have liability insurance. But neither the federal government nor any state requires all households to protect themselves from the potentially catastrophic costs of a serious accident or illness.”