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Letters: Republicans and the insurance mandate

June 21, 2012

Re "A health mandate that is already a burden," June 19

The article on emergency room costs is right on point.

Despite conservatives' angst over healthcare reform's individual mandate, the fact is that we already have a major healthcare mandate: the requirement that taxpayers and the insured pay for the uninsured, many of whom are — as Mitt Romney once said — irresponsible free riders. They don't buy insurance, but they expect others to pay for their healthcare needs. The individual mandate directly addresses the free-rider problem.

How ironic that the conservative concept of individual responsibility and making free riders pay via an individual mandate — the one fundamental reform idea that Democrats borrowed from Republicans — is now the one concept that threatens to bring down the 50-year-old Democratic goal of healthcare reform.

Walter Zelman

Malibu

The writer chairs the Department of Public Health at Cal State Los Angeles.

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