During an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Jake Tapper today, President Obama said that penalties are appropriate for people who try to “free ride” the health care system but stopped short of endorsing the threat of jail time for those who refuse to pay a fine for not having insurance.
“What I think is appropriate is that in the same way that everybody has to get auto insurance and if you don’t, you’re subject to some penalty, that in this situation, if you have the ability to buy insurance, it’s affordable and you choose not to do so, forcing you and me and everybody else to subsidize you, you know, there’s a thousand dollar hidden tax that families all across America are — are burdened by because of the fact that people don’t have health insurance, you know, there’s nothing wrong with a penalty.”
Under the House bill those who can afford to buy insurance and don’t’ pay a fine. If the refuse to pay that fine there’s a threat – as with a lot of tax fines – of jail time. The Senate removed that provision in the Senate Finance Committee.
Mr. Obama said penalties have to be high enough for people to not game the system, but it’s also important to not be “so punitive” that people who are having a hard time find themselves suddenly worse off, thus why hardship exemptions have been built in the legislation. . . . (source)