HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Creighton University School of Law

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Naomi Schoenbaum: The Single Word That Could Make or Break Obamacare

Naomi Schoenbaum, Associate Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School has written a very interesting essay for The Atlantic on the implications of labeling the health care mandate a tax or a penalty. Below is an excerpt. The entire essay is here.

Obamacare has been one of the yardsticks of Obama's term in office and one of the touchstones of the 2012 election. Last night's presidential debate was no exception, with health care reform mentioned at least half a dozen times. But an important piece of the discussion has been missing: is the health care law a tax or a penalty?  

It turns out how Americans perceive the health care mandate could affect whether they end up purchasing health insurance at all, and therefore whether the law achieves what it was meant to do. During the next four years, the way the president chooses to frame the law will have a large impact on its policy future. 


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