Politics & Policy

Pawlenty & Individual Mandate

From the November 15th, 2006 edition of the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

Gov. Tim Pawlenty outlined his health care priorities for the next four years Tuesday in a speech that surprised many health care officials and questioned the effectiveness of health insurance companies.

A week after a narrow re-election, Pawlenty said Minnesota should try to achieve universal health coverage, even though the state’s 7 percent rate of uninsured people is among the nation’s lowest.

The Republican governor said he was “open to” a state law that would try to achieve universal coverage by requiring that all Minnesotans have insurance.

“I think a mandate by itself is potentially helpful, but is not an answer by itself,” Pawlenty said at a forum in Minneapolis arranged by the University of St. Thomas’ National Institute of Health Policy.

Pawlenty’s speech was an olive branch to the DFL leaders who will take control of the Legislature next year. Many DFL lawmakers support the idea of universal coverage.

Politico’s Ben Smith unearths the speech that the Pioneer Press is reporting on, and notes that Pawlenty is adamant that the insurance mandate by itself is not a solution.

UPDATE: Pawlenty responded to the piece today, saying that he had never supported the individual mandate.

“The rest of the story is in 2004, before that remark and [in] 2008, after those remarks, I was presented formally with recommendations from commissions who looked at all this stuff and I rejected my own commission’s recommendations because at least one time, and maybe more than once they had an individual mandate in it,” Pawlenty tells National Review Online.

“[I] kicked the recommendations out within days, I think, of the recommendations coming forward,” he adds.

Asked why he said he was “open” to the individual mandate in 2006, if he had rejected it in 2004, Pawlenty stressed that didn’t want to tell the commissions what conclusions to come to.

“Because when I had study commissions, and people said are you going to predetermine the outcome, I generally said no, they can study whatever they want. That doesn’t mean I’m going to embrace what they did,” Pawlenty says.

“There are many times when I had study commissions, blue ribbon panels, we put the old elder thinkers from various walks of life in Minnesota business, Democrats, Republicans,” he explains. “They’d come back with all kinds of crazy stuff. And so I would often say ‘That’s interesting , thank you for your work,’ …  and they bring it into the legislature, then I had to say I don’t accept these findings or these recommendations.”

Pawlenty said that he objected to the individual mandate because it is “unconstitutional” and says the mandate is “an overreach by the federal government to require a citizen to buy a good or a service.”


Katrina TrinkoKatrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...


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