Should Court Toss Out Health Care Mandate?

As the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments over President Barack Obama’s health care law, the biggest issue is over whether the individual insurance requirement is constitutional. However, according to former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, there is already a mandate in place, so tossing it out won’t solve the nation’s health care problems.

Tom Daschle and Tom Coburn
CNBC.com | Getty Images Photo Composite
Tom Daschle and Tom Coburn

“The mandate we have now is a community mandate,” Daschle told CNBC. “Every time you go into the hospital, every time you pay a premium, you’re mandated—it’s going to cost you about a $1,000 this year to pay for those who don’t have coverage.”

What it comes down to, he said, is whether the government is going to require individual responsibility through Obama’s health care law, dubbed “Obamacare” by Republicans, or require everyone else to continue to pay for those who do not.

The court is in the midst of three days of arguments on the Affordable Care Act after 26 states challenged the law. In addition to the question of whether Congress had the authority to enact the individual mandate, the justices must also determine if the rest of the law can stay in place if the insurance mandate is struck down.

Daschle, a Democrat who represented South Dakota during his time in the Senate, wrote in an op-ed in Politico Monday, “Congress was well within its authority in passing the individual mandate to regulate the interstate effects of an industry that is almost 20 percent of our nation’s economy—more than $2.5 trillion each year.”

Sen. Tom Coburn, M.D. (R) Okla., disagrees with Daschle. He told “The Kudlow Report” that Medicare is a perfect example of why the government shouldn’t be in the health care business.

“The problem with health care in America it costs too much and this bill doesn’t do anything to help the costs,” he said. “What it does is it actually makes it much worse.”

He blamed government regulations and lack of “smart state government” for the high cost.

“What we have is a system that ignores market reality, will not use markets to allocate resources and put it back on the individual to make the best choice for their life,” Coburn said.

While Daschle acknowledged that health care costs must be addressed, he said the law is important.

“If we do nothing, if we stay with the status quo, if we don’t have the pieces in place afforded us under the Affordable Care Act, we aren’t going to be able to deal with these problems in a meaningful way,” he said.

The law, he added, will have serious reforms and will create great efficiency that will ultimately result in a trillion dollars in savings over a 20 year period of time.

Tune in:

"The Kudlow Report" airs weeknights at 7 p.m. ET.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Questions? Comments, send your emails to: lkudlow@kudlow.com