Can Health-Care Work Without Mandate?

Can the health-care overhaul law survive or be effective without the individual mandate?

That question resurfaced in many minds after U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson's ruling Monday that the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

Merill Goozner, who I  once toiled alongside in the Chicago Tribune newsroom, says the law can survive although not nearly as well without the individual mandate.

In a posting on his blog carried by The Fiscal Times, Merrill, who has followed both health care and economics for year,s cites important experts who deem the mandate as essential, he lays out some possible ways the law could still work:

Are there alternatives? I can think of one. Since the federal government is already picking up the tab for Medicaid-eligible poor people who don’t respond to that entitlement (don’t forget that half the 32 million people who will get coverage under the new law in 2015 will be getting it through Medicaid), the reform law if the mandate is struck down would only have to be changed for those who plan to buy coverage through the exchanges.

All the same rules on pre-existing conditions and levels of coverage could still apply to policies sold through those exchanges. But people wouldn’t have an automatic right to them...

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