Feb 17, 2011
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) claimed that there was no financial penalty for not having health insurance under the new health care law, saying that it was in fact an “incentive” to get people to do the right thing.
At a House Judiciary Committee hearing about the individual mandate to buy insurance, Jackson-Lee said, “I would make the argument, one, that it [the individual mandate] is an incentive to do right – that it is not penalizing you because a penalty is punishment, and you’re not punished if you have health insurance, in fact.
“And so, you are in fact incentivized to have health insurance rather than take the negative, which is to suggest that because you have a penalty you’re being punished,” she said.
Jackson-Lee is incorrect, however, as the language of the law clearly states the following: “If an applicable individual fails to meet the requirement of subsection (a) [have government-approved insurance]… there is hereby imposed a penalty with respect to the individual, Section 5000A of the law reads.”