Rep. Jackson-Lee: No ‘Penalty’ in ObamaCare, Only an ‘Incentive’ to Buy Health Insurance
Thursday, February 17, 2011
By Matt Cover
(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) claimed that there was no financial penalty for not having health insurance under the new health care law, saying that it was in fact an “incentive” to get people to do the right thing.
At a House Judiciary Committee hearing about the individual mandate to buy insurance, Jackson-Lee said, “I would make the argument, one, that it [the individual mandate] is an incentive to do right – that it is not penalizing you because a penalty is punishment, and you’re not punished if you have health insurance, in fact.
“And so, you are in fact incentivized to have health insurance rather than take the negative, which is to suggest that because you have a penalty you’re being punished,” she said.
Jackson-Lee is incorrect, however, as the language of the law clearly states the following: “If an applicable individual fails to meet the requirement of subsection (a) [have government-approved insurance]… there is hereby imposed a penalty with respect to the individual, Section 5000A of the law reads.”
Another section of the health care law, entitled “Payment of Penalty,” stipulates that if an individual fails to carry a government-approved health insurance policy for any month during the year, they must pay a maximum penalty of $750.
The section containing the individual mandate does not mention incentivizing anyone to do anything, contrary to Jackson-Lee’s claim.
The congresswoman continued, saying “I am helping you” to critics who think the mandate treads on their individual liberty. She also compared the argument over the individual mandate to debates during the Civil Rights Era of the 1960s.
“I am helping you,” she said. “I am helping you not to have 26 percent un-insurance in the state of Texas. I’m helping children be insured. I’m helping diverse minorities be insured, and I know that during the civil rights arguments – even though we were arguing the Constitution – there were many policy statements being made.