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Compulsory health-coverage plan wins support
Proposed requirement would result in all Americans having
By Ceci Connolly
WASHINGTON - President Obama's dream of dramatically remaking the nation's health-care system is
still a long way from reality. But if lawmakers can reach an accord, one thing is virtually certain: For the
first time ever, every American would be required to carry health insurance.
The requirement, known as an individual mandate, is among the most far-reaching changes envisioned
this year by those pushing for health-care reform. And it is one of the few common threads running
through all three bills being considered in Congress, greatly increasing the likelihood it will survive the
legislative process. Obama continued Tuesday to push lawmakers struggling with the large costs and
scope of health legislation to move forward, pronouncing reform to be "closer than ever."
Just as drivers must purchase auto insurance, the medical system of the future would put responsibility for
health coverage first and foremost on every adult.
For the vast majority of Americans who have health insurance, the change would mean little more than
submitting a form with their tax returns proving that the plan they carry meets certain minimum standards.
Many of the nation's 47 million uninsured people, however, would be required to purchase a health policy
or face financial penalties, though waivers or discounts would be provided for lower-income Americans.
The concept is modeled after a requirement instituted in Massachusetts three years ago as part o