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Dean predicts demise of insurance mandate

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Carrie Dann writes: On MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown, former DNC Chairman Howard Dean told Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie that a key part of the federal health care bill – the requirement that almost all Americans must purchase insurance or pay a fine – is not essential to the overhaul.

He predicted that the so-called “individual mandate” – which has been called unconstitutional by a group of state Attorneys General who are challenging the new reform law – will be stripped out before the legislation goes into effect in 2014.

“By the time this thing goes into effect in 2014, the mandate will be gone, either through the courts, or because it’s unpopular,” he said. "You don't need it."

Backers of the bill argue that the requirement that all Americans purchase insurance is a central tenet of the overhauled system that brought and kept insurance companies at the negotiating table during the protracted health care debate.

But Dean argued that the mandate only benefits insurance companies, not consumers.

“The truth is that the mandate’s not essential to the plan, anyway,” he said. “It never was essential to the plan.”

Dean, who served as a spokesman for progressive Democrats who advocated unsuccessfully for a public option, was a vocal critic of several parts of the health reform bill throughout the overhaul effort.

He penned an op-ed in the Washington Post in December 2009 blasting the Senate version of the bill, including the formulation of the individual mandate. He wrote then:

“The bill was supposed to give Americans choices about what kind of system they wanted to enroll in. Instead, it fines Americans if they do not sign up with an insurance company, which may take up to 30 percent of your premium dollars and spend it on CEO salaries -- in the range of $20 million a year -- and on return on equity for the company's shareholders.”