As America's health care crisis continues, the American Medical Association, the nation's largest physicians' organization, reiterated yesterday its support for the individual mandate, the most controversial part of President Barack Obama's signature 2012 health care reform.
"The AMA has strong policy in support of covering the uninsured," Cecil B. Wilson, M.D., AMA president, said in a press release. "The AMA's policy supporting individual responsibility has bipartisan roots, helps Americans get the care they need when they need it and ends cost shifting from those who are uninsured to those who are insured. Important insurance market reforms, such as an end to coverage denials based on pre-existing conditions, are only possible by having broad participation in the health insurance market."
The individual mandate, which the AMA prefers to call "personal responsibility," requires nearly all Americans to have health insurance, or face a tax penalty. The association reviewed various alternatives but found nothing that would "be fully successful in covering the uninsured without individual responsibility for health insurance."
Republicans have charged that the mandate violates personal freedoms and is in violation of the Constitution's Commerce Clause, and several states have challenged the law in court. Still, most rulings have been in favor of the law.
Supporters argue that without the mandate, people who are generally healthy - young people, for example - will not purchase insurance. But if they get ill, they will end up using public money for health care, which on average would cover about two-thirds of their care. Consequently, they say, without the mandated insurance for all, the insurance system would be unaffordable.
The new health care reform would offer assistance to those who are unable to afford purchasing health care.
The Obama administration argues that were states to succeed in their quest to have the reform law declared unconstitutional, millions of Americans would once again have no hope for attaining affordable health care.
Even now (as the law does not take affect until 2014) many are now taking desperate measures to receive care.
On June 9, according to reports, 59-year-old Richard James Verone allegedly robbed RBC Bank in North Carolina at gunpoint - for a dollar.
According to a teller and his own account, Verone entered the bank, slipped the teller a note demanding one dollar and saying he had a gun, took the cash and then proceeded to sit on a sofa at the front of the bank, waiting for the police.
Verone, who is without insurance and needs care, said that he robbed the bank so that he could receive free health care in prison. He only demanded a dollar, he said, so that people would know he was looking for jail, and not to actually take money that was not his.