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A healthcare reform specialist helps people select insurance plans at the free Affordable Care Act (ACA) Enrollment Fair at Pasadena City College on November 19, 2013 in Pasadena, California. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Obamacare's Mandate: Buy the Only Plan Available

Jeffrey H. Anderson

It’s bad enough when the federal government compels private American citizens to buy a product from a private company for the first time in all of United States history. It’s worse when there’s no choice of product.

Americans in nearly a third of the nation’s roughly 3,000 counties no longer have a choice of Obamacare plans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s analysis of 2017 Obamacare offerings. In response, several Republican senators have introduced legislation to free such affected citizens from Obamacare’s individual mandate. That mandate, of course, is the unprecedented, coercive, and—whatever the opinion of five Supreme Court justices, four of whom were nominated by President Obama or President Clinton—unconstitutional core of Obamacare.

Introduced by Senators Tom Cotton, Ben Sasse, Ron Johnson, Jeff Flake, and John McCain, the “Protection from ObamaCare Monopolies Act” spans just two pages (2,400 fewer than Obamacare). It says that if there’s no choice of Obamacare plans in your area, the federal government can’t compel you to buy the one plan available against your will.

The fact that there won’t be anything close to a consensus supporting the legislation says a lot about the present state of our politics. As Senator Cotton notes, “Hard-working Americans shouldn’t face [fines] because President Obama’s Obamacare hopes and dreams failed.” Senator Sasse adds that “this whole mess must be repealed,” but “if Democrats keep trying to defend the indefensible, we should at least help those who are hurt the most.” As Senator Barrasso observes, “When there’s only one option, that’s not a marketplace, it’s a monopoly.”

Indeed, and a monopoly over health care—a government monopoly—is exactly what the Democrats are after. Witness Hillary Clinton’s proposals for a government-run, government-subsidized insurance plan—the “public option“—and for lowering Medicare’s age of eligibility to 55.

According to Kaiser, there are four entire states where there won’t be any choice of plans under Obamacare next year, unless things change: Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. In those states, you’ll buy your one designated Obamacare plan and like it—or you’ll pay the fine for noncompliance.

But it’s hardly just red states that will be affected. Swing-state watchers might be curious to note that 59 percent of the counties in Nevada, 73 percent of the countries in Florida, and 90 percent of the counties in North Carolina won’t offer a choice of Obamacare plans next year. What’s more, 39 percent of the population of Pennsylvania won’t have a choice.

Open enrollment for Obamacare is slated to begin on November 1, one week before the election.

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