January 21, 2008
With respect to universal coverage, understand what this debate is about. And this is a legitimate policy debate. And I respect the positions that John and Hillary have taken. They have decided that we should mandate coverage for all adults. I believe that the problem -- and understand what that means. A mandate means that, in some fashion, everybody will be forced to buy health insurance. Now, John has been honest that that may mean taking money out of people's paychecks in order to make sure that they're covered. Senator Clinton has not been clear about how that mandate would be enforced. But I believe the problem is not that folks are trying to avoid getting health care; the problem is they can't afford it.
January 31, 2008:
February 26, 2008OBAMA: Now, under any mandate, you are going to have problems with people who don't end up having health coverage. Massachusetts right now embarked on an experiment where they mandated coverage. And, by the way, I want to congratulate Governor Schwarzenegger and the speaker and others who have been trying to do this in California, but I know that those who have looked at it understand, you can mandate it, but there's still going to be people who can't afford it. And if they cannot afford it, then the question is, what are you going to do about it?
Are you going to fine them? Are you going to garnish their wages? You know, those are questions that Senator Clinton has not answered with respect to her plan, but I think we can anticipate that there would also be people potentially who are not covered and are actually hurt if they have a mandate imposed on them.
And the last point I would make is, the insurance companies actually are happy to have a mandate. The insurance companies don't mind making sure that everybody has to purchase their product. That's not something they're objecting to. The question is, are we going to make sure that it is affordable for everybody?