Gov. Tim Pawlenty‘s consistent opposition to a new federal requirement that individuals buy health insurance could bolster his national political ambitions, suggests a recent post on the National Journal’s Hotline blog. Such mandates have become a touchstone issue since the passage of the national health care package, with Republicans across the country arguing that they’re unconstitutional.
However, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — arguably the frontrunner in the 2012 GOP presidential sweepstakes — can’t exactly back this argument, considering that he signed a bill requiring that solvent individuals carry health insurance while in office.
Pawlenty, by contrast, has twice resisted calls to put in place health care mandates. In 2003, Hotline points out, Pawlenty appointed former U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger to chair a group studying ways to control health care costs. Among its recommendations: “Require participation in the health care system by uninsured Minnesotans who can afford to buy health coverage but choose not to.”
Then, in 2008, another health care commission — this one co-chaired by the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Cal Ludeman, and state Rep. Thomas Huntley, DFL-Duluth — offered a similar recommendation. “Require that all Minnesotans obtain health coverage by January 1, 2011,” the group suggested, “unless: No insurance that meets affordability standards is available; and No subsidy is available to make available insurance policies affordable.”
Pawlenty again rebuffed the advice.