Critical Condition

The Show-Me State Sends a Message

President Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership predicted soon after the passage of their health-care bill that the public would soon come to support it after they learned more about the law’s provisions. Missouri’s voters decisively rejected that argument yesterday, passing by a wide margin an initiative that would outlaw the individual mandate.

While some commentators have suggested this was fueled by high Republican turnout, the results suggest otherwise. The measure passed in every county save one, heavily Democratic St. Louis City. It was approved by over 70 percent in virtually every county, and by 60-62 percent even in strongly Democratic counties such as Jackson, which includes Kansas City, Boone, which includes the University of Missouri, and St. Louis and St. Genevieve counties.

As everyone knows, the Rube Goldberg contraption known as health-care reform falls apart if there is no individual mandate. Without forcing people to pay for health insurance, many people would choose not to buy any. Those people would likelier be younger and healthier, meaning that those who did enroll would be sicker and older than the general population. This would increase the cost to insurance companies, quickly making them unprofitable and sinking our entire private insurance market.

The Show-Me State has shown Washington that its bill won’t fly. Whether the verdict is delivered by the people or the courts, real health-care reform will be back on the table sooner than you think.

Henry Olsen is director of the American Enterprise Institute’s National Research Initiative.

Henry OlsenMr. Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, an editor at, and the author of The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism.


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