Watering Down The Mandate

The latest Obamacare news:

The Obama Administration will not require the millions of Americans who received health-insurance-plan cancellation notices to purchase a new policy next year.

Ezra Klein reacts:

This puts the first crack in the individual mandate. The question is whether it’s the last. If Democratic members of Congress see this as solving their political problem with people whose plans have been canceled, it could help them stand against Republican efforts to delay the individual mandate. But if congressional Democrats use this ruling as an excuse to delay or otherwise de-fang the individual mandate for anyone who doesn’t want to pay for insurance under Obamacare, then it’ll be a very big problem for the law.

Suderman chimes in:

[I]t’s hard to justify offering this exemption to the previously insured but not to those who were previously uninsured. A person’s plan is canceled, and as a result that person is not subject to the mandate. But if that person was not insured this year, a person who is otherwise exactly the same is subject to the fine? Good luck selling that one.

Aaron Carroll’s bottom line:

If you change the ACA for political purposes, there is a cost, both financially and argumentatively. If the principles that hold it together were true before, then weakening them in this way should not be something the administration does lightly.

First Read asks:

Serious question: will there be a single uninsured American in 2014 who will end up paying the mandate penalty?