Obama to DeGeneres on Why He Opposed Individual Mandate: Forcing Uninsured to Buy Insurance Is Like Forcing Homeless to Buy Homes

February 1, 2011 - 11:07 AM

health care-obama

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden react to cheers as they arrive in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March 23, 2010, for the signing ceremony for the health care bill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CNSNews.com) - Long before his administration went into federal court to fight 27 states that are now challenging the constitutionality of the federal government forcing people to buy health insurance, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama told Ellen DeGeneres that—unlike his opponent Hillary Clinton—he opposed forcing the uninsured to buy  health insurance, saying that it would be like forcing the homeless to buy homes.

“Both of us want to provide health care to all Americans. There’s a slight difference, and her plan is a good one. But, she mandates that everybody buy health care. She’d have the government force every individual to buy insurance and I don’t have such a mandate because I don’t think the problem is that people don’t want health insurance, it’s that they can’t afford it,” Obama said in a Feb. 28, 2008 appearance on Ellen DeGeneres' television show. “So, I focus more on lowering costs. This is a modest difference. But, it’s one that she’s tried to elevate, arguing that because I don’t force people to buy health care that I’m not insuring everybody. Well, if things were that easy, I could mandate everybody to buy a house, and that would solve the problem of homelessness. It doesn’t."

In a ruling issued yesterday holding that the insurance mandate in Obamacare is unconstitutional, U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson pointed to a similar statement that Obama had made in a Feb. 5th, 2008 interview with CNN. “Indeed,” wrote Vinson, “I note that in 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that ‘if a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house.’”

Judge Vinson was the second federal judge to rule that the federal government does not have the constitutional power to force individuals to buy health insurance. Last month, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson also ruled that the mandate was unconstitutional. Vinson was ruling in a suit brought against the federal government by Florida and 25 other states. Hudson was ruling in a suit brought against the federal government by the state of Virginia.