Senate ObamaCare bill fines families $3800 per year for ignoring mandate

posted at 5:25 pm on September 9, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) released his general plan for the Senate version of ObamaCare yesterday, and it portends some hefty costs for American families.  Baucus stripped out the public option but left in place individual mandates to buy insurance — and backed them with big fines, administered by the IRS.  Each family could pay up to $3800 per year for failing to get government-approved coverage:

A bipartisan group of senators huddled in the afternoon to decide whether to move forward on an overhaul plan that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) began circulating over the weekend. The plan includes some of the stiffest penalties Congress has proposed for Americans who don’t carry health insurance coverage.

Sen. Baucus emerged from a meeting with the six-member bipartisan group saying he had given his colleagues until 10 a.m. Wednesday to provide feedback on his draft. The group will meet again Wednesday afternoon in an attempt to come up with an agreement before Mr. Obama’s address.

Under the plan, people who earn between 100% and 300% of the poverty level (or between about $22,000 a year and $66,000 a year for a family of four) would face fees ranging from $750 to $1,500 a year.

For taxpayers with incomes above 300% of poverty, the penalty starts at $950 a year and reaches as high as $3,800 for families. Nearly 12 million people fit in this category, according to the National Institute for Health Care Management.

Individual mandates are bad enough, at least constitutionally speaking.  States have insurance mandates for drivers, but those are predicated on accessing public roads, not private enterprise.  The courts should make minced meat out of an argument that Congress has the power to compel citizens to buy insurance for any reason, let alone health insurance.

But the problem here goes beyond the mandate, and even beyond the fine.  Who will manage this mandate?  Who determines the validity or non-validity of insurance coverage?  That bastion of medical knowledge, the Internal Revenue Service.  Taxpayers will have to provide proof of insurance from the previous tax year to avoid the fines.  If the IRS doesn’t consider the coverage adequate, families could be out the cost of the coverage and the fine.  They can appeal any negative verdicts, of course … to the IRS.

The IRS hasn’t the expertise, nor the flexibility, to manage the nation’s health-insurance coverages.  This is a tremendously bad idea.  As I wrote earlier, who in this country believes that the IRS doesn’t intrude enough into their lives?


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The judges.

Liam on September 9, 2009 at 6:03 PM

Judges can be trumped if it comes to it.

sven10077 on September 9, 2009 at 6:04 PM

sven10077 on September 9, 2009 at 6:04 PM

Only if the concept of jury nullification is beaten down and no longer a valid concept at law.

Liam on September 9, 2009 at 6:06 PM

Didn’t I say before that the “probably” was a typo?

The Dean on September 9, 2009 at 6:04 PM

Probably but we can’t be sure.

thomasaur on September 9, 2009 at 6:06 PM

Probably but we can’t be sure.

thomasaur on September 9, 2009 at 6:06 PM

Look, Hitler did a lot of evil things on the domestic front.

The Dean on September 9, 2009 at 6:08 PM

Since all these lefties are so hot for Cuba I think its about time we start doing what a Cuban would do in this situation. Become invisible and DEAL ONLY IN CASH!!

Bicyea on September 9, 2009 at 6:08 PM

OT but important. Senate just voted cloture on Sunsteen confirmation as Regulatory Czar 63-35. Vote coming up next. Get ready to lose hunting rights and your dog or the rat in your cellar having the ability to sue you.

Moses99 on September 9, 2009 at 5:51 PM

So, we have the D’Rat congress with their fingers all up and down Sunstein as well? 2010 is going to be explosive.

HornetSting on September 9, 2009 at 6:11 PM

Become invisible and DEAL ONLY IN CASH!!

Bicyea on September 9, 2009 at 6:08 PM

That’s become the norm with me.

thomasaur on September 9, 2009 at 6:12 PM

It’s only a fine. We should be thankful he’s not raising our taxes.

/sarc

fogw on September 9, 2009 at 6:12 PM

Only if the concept of jury nullification is beaten down and no longer a valid concept at law.

Liam on September 9, 2009 at 6:06 PM

Battle of Athens(1946)….seems some people didn’t feel the courts were giving an honest redress of grievances.

sven10077 on September 9, 2009 at 6:14 PM

If this passes I will simply write “Screw You” on that line of my tax return. That’s a hill I’m willing to die on.

t.ferg on September 9, 2009 at 6:17 PM

I hope every young person hears this.I mean the 20-30 somethings who voted for this, this, this ,I can’t bring myself to say what I’m thinking to call this pres.I’ll just be glad when this speech is over and the fireworks can start!

ohiobabe on September 9, 2009 at 6:19 PM

A $3800 fine?

What is this, a sick joke? (No pun intended)

Problem is, what will be the next reason to sock struggling American families with big federal fines?

Using light bulbs of too high a wattage?

Not feeding their methane-violator global-warmer cows enough high-grade anti-farting feed?

Edouard on September 9, 2009 at 6:21 PM

hey gov’t, my bank account went into the negative almost 6 months ago when the economy went into the crapper, when I lost my job. what are you gonna do now?? I haven’t had health ins. for over 3 years, and do have some health issues I would LOVE to have resolved, but refuse to suck off the gov’t teat. Lemme see you step onto my porch. If my viscous attack cat (lol) doesn’t stop you, maybe my Taurus Judge will.

viviliberoomuori on September 9, 2009 at 6:21 PM

sven10077 on September 9, 2009 at 6:14 PM

That was a good read. Thanks!

Liam on September 9, 2009 at 6:21 PM

Individual mandates are bad enough, at least constitutionally speaking. States have insurance mandates for drivers, but those are predicated on accessing public roads, not private enterprise. The courts should make minced meat out of an argument that Congress has the power to compel citizens to buy insurance for any reason, let alone health insurance.

A person who doesn’t want car insurance can choose not to drive a car, which may be a reasonable choice in a big, congested city with good mass-transit and few parking spaces.

A person can choose not to buy home-owner’s insurance, but is out of luck if the home is burglarized, burned to the ground, or damaged by a storm.

A person can choose not to buy life insurance, but leaves his/her heirs or dependents poor if the person dies young.

In each case, a person has a choice whether to spend money on prudence, or save money and accept the risk of a major financial disaster.

But mandating health insurance? For those in the 100% to 300% of poverty level income bracket, if their employer doesn’t provide health insurance, wouldn’t the fines be cheaper than health insurance? How does a “mandate” help them get health insurance? Isn’t this just a tax on the lower-middle-class, since higher-income people usually get health insurance from their employers anyway? What will these people get for their taxes?

The townhall meetings were mostly attracting senior citizens worried about losing Medicare benefits. If the Baucus bill gets any traction, add the non-unoin working poor to the protesters.

Let’s get raucous at Baucus!

Steve Z on September 9, 2009 at 6:24 PM

I wonder what they will do for people on Social Security and no other income, therefore do not need to file.

rlwo2008 on September 9, 2009 at 6:25 PM

That was a good read. Thanks!

Liam on September 9, 2009 at 6:21 PM

Precedents work both ways.

sven10077 on September 9, 2009 at 6:26 PM

You say you want a revolution…well, you know….

I don’t want to hear one of you pusbag liberals complain, you asked for it so bend over and grease up.

Spiritk9 on September 9, 2009 at 6:28 PM

The interesting bit will be what they do to prevent individuals from paying the fine in lieu of health insurance and then gaming the system to only buy health insurance when needed, after pre-existing conditions are no longer a barrier.

In one of the primary debates, Obama suggested billing for back premiums. I suspect that you’ll have people paying the fine and then getting nailed for a huge penalty for the back premiums that they did not pay when they finally do need care of some sort. If the govt is collecting those back premiums as penalties, I bet that you end up with a large amount of health related debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

In the end, some will be paying both the fine and the premiums for health insurance.

rw on September 9, 2009 at 6:31 PM

Maybe this plan would look more appealing if they pitched it through a commercial starring Progressive Insurance’s quirky-cute spokesclerk:
.

FLO: Welcome to Regressive Health Insurance! Can I help you?
.
SHOPPER: Uh … no. I don’t see any insurance plan I like here. Thanks anyway.
.
FLO: Oooh … sorry, but that’ll still cost you $3800.
.
SHOPPER: EXCUSE me? I’m leaving.
.
FLO: Will that be cash or credit?
.
SHOPPER: Go to hell!
.
FLO: I get that all the time! Security: Please help this gentleman “check out.”

templeofdoom on September 9, 2009 at 6:39 PM

I’m not sure this proposal is even constitutional? People seem to keep forgetting we have 3 branches of Government. Congress can pass anything and have it struck down by the judicial branch.

Dr Evil on September 9, 2009 at 6:47 PM

So, shift this from bureaucrats we can speculate about with some accuracy to a bureaucracy many KNOW is a problem is supposed to be better? What is this guy smoking?

aikidoka on September 9, 2009 at 6:52 PM

maybe my Taurus Judge will.

viviliberoomuori on September 9, 2009 at 6:21 PM

That could tend to put some impressive holes in a ‘well conceived plan (/sarc)’.

Yoop on September 9, 2009 at 6:53 PM

I’ll take the religious opt out.

My faith declares that I cannot accept health care mandates from any state.

I am a fervent American.

profitsbeard on September 9, 2009 at 6:56 PM

Become invisible and DEAL ONLY IN CASH!!

Bicyea on September 9, 2009 at 6:08 PM

That’s become the norm with me.

thomasaur on September 9, 2009 at 6:12 PM

Barter system.I’ll trade you this tomato plant for your 2009 Expedition.

Jeff from WI on September 9, 2009 at 6:57 PM

And what if they ignore the fine?
Confiscation of property? Wages garnished?
What if they quit their jobs, grow gardens and eat their own food, make fires to stay warm and still refuse to pay the fine?
Arrest? Imprisonment?
Sounds like great health care.

JellyToast on September 9, 2009 at 5:52 PM

That answer to those situations is obvious. Health care will be provided at the nearest Federally-mandated State Debtors Prison.

Yoop on September 9, 2009 at 7:00 PM

What I want to know. Will we be able to see a physician and pay cash for some servies, or will that be illegal?

bopbottle on September 9, 2009 at 7:29 PM

What I want to know. Will we be able to see a physician and pay cash for some servies, or will that be illegal?

bopbottle on September 9, 2009 at 7:29 PM

you’ll need to join the reverse reconquista and go down to Mexico where they have a free market….

*shudder*

I can’t believe I just typed that.

sven10077 on September 9, 2009 at 7:31 PM

Bill of Attainder?

coldwarrior on September 9, 2009 at 7:36 PM

There must be some provision in the draft bill that will allow more punishment than a $3800 fine. Think of how much could be saved if our government simply eliminates all non signers and their families, with their property reverting to the federal goverment.

GaltBlvnAtty on September 9, 2009 at 7:41 PM

(or between about $22,000 a year and $66,000 a year for a family of four) would face fees ranging from $750 to $1,500 a year.

Sounds like it’s just cheaper for my family to pay the fine than buy health insurance.

Browncoatone on September 9, 2009 at 7:45 PM

I’m self employed and high taxes are the reason that I don’t have health insurance in the first place.

So now the government is going to fine me for not getting the health insurance that it is preventing me from getting?

Nice.

29Victor on September 9, 2009 at 7:45 PM

29Victor: You’ve got that right. And, your taxes will go up because the government will have to hire more employees to come after people like you, and, of course, all of those federal employees will be exempt from Obamacare.

GaltBlvnAtty on September 9, 2009 at 7:47 PM

I won’t pay it. I hope they attempt to garnish my wages for back “taxes” that go up by $3800 every year of my life. The one constant with death and taxes is a federal amnesty for laws it won’t enforce.

Chris_Balsz on September 9, 2009 at 7:53 PM

If you don’t have good enough insurance the government will fine you. If you have too good insurance they will fine the insurance company.

This is not eliminating the government option this is the government option administered by private companies that can only sell what the government will allow.

Which if I remember my political lexicon correctly would mean this is not socialized medicine but fascist medicine.

Stephen Macklin on September 9, 2009 at 8:14 PM

And all the Libs I know will be fine with this. They’ll say that they think folks should pay $X because the government says so because it’s for the good of society, blah blah blah.

Of course, I haven’t figured out yet if they really mean that of if they’re just intent on pissing me off.

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 9, 2009 at 9:01 PM

If the government wants to force people to buy something, or fine them for not having, it should be guns.

bookman on September 9, 2009 at 10:23 PM

I WILL NOT pay a fine, I hope some idiot in the government tries to come to collect it, I’ve killed Communists before, I can do it again.

nelsonknows on September 9, 2009 at 11:05 PM

templeofdoom on September 9, 2009 at 6:39 PM

Work. Of. ART. We need to send that to the RNC, see if they can make a campaign ad out of it for 2010.

Blacksmith on September 9, 2009 at 11:48 PM

More intrusion and monitoring from the IRS? And over matters unrelated to revenue?

Soon they’ll need to rename it the Internal Rectal Scan Service.

RD on September 10, 2009 at 12:02 AM

If the government wants to force people to buy something, or fine them for not having, it should be guns.

bookman on September 9, 2009 at 10:23 PM

AMEN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

hamradio on September 10, 2009 at 1:14 AM

The courts should make minced meat out of an argument that Congress has the power to compel citizens to buy insurance for any reason, let alone health insurance.

The courts used to protect political speech too.

MarkTheGreat on September 10, 2009 at 8:30 AM

I’m not sure this proposal is even constitutional? People seem to keep forgetting we have 3 branches of Government. Congress can pass anything and have it struck down by the judicial branch.

Dr Evil on September 9, 2009 at 6:47 PM

Oh, you’re so cute. The 3 branches of govt gave us social security, medicare, medicaid, CAFE standards, light bulb mandates, and any number of other clearly unconstitutional things.

I defy anyone here to name 5 (that’s one hand) things this govt has done that are clearly, unambiguously constitutional. Once you have succeeded in that exercise, take note of how far back in our history you had to go to find those 5 things.

All 3 branches of this govt are colluding to bypass the Constitution, it may as well not exist. This is a fact, and has been for a very long time. What are we gonna do about it? Probably nothing, and they know it.

runawayyyy on September 10, 2009 at 2:22 PM

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