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Health Care Reform as a Backdoor National ID

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As I type this, the US House and Senate have both passed health care reform bills. While not an expert on the health care debate, I think there are good and bad parts in both versions, but I am disappointed with the outcome so far. Decisions seem to be made to favor the corporatism at the root of the problem rather than let consumers shop for insurance across state lines or import drugs at a lower cost, eg. I also fear a backdoor National ID lurking in the shadows.

One of the most troubling aspects of the bills is the individual mandate. Instead of merely reforming the system to make it easier to buy health insurance or even extend the government health care coverage to more people, Congress seems intent to initiate a National ID under the guise of health care reform.

Ad hoc broad left-right-libertarian coalitions have been successfully fighting a federal National ID for a while. I testified to the Senate against it when Bush was president, wrote commentaries, spoke against it at demonstrations at the Capitol, and sent letters to President Bush.

Later, I was part of similar coalitions against the "REAL ID" proposals. A broad group of us wrote to the Senate against the idea. Just when we thought we had finally killed it, the National ID is rising from the ashes like an ugly phoenix.

Many of us have been in this fight for a long time against both Democratic and Republican Administrations.

Now we need to ask our policy makers: How are they going to enforce a universal individual mandate without a National ID equivalent? Does health care reform need to mean creating an unconstitutional and unwarranted dossier on every American?

Michael Ostrolenk of the Liberty Coalition organized a group letter against an insurance mandate. The letter explained,

The "individual mandate" is a section of the bill that requires every single American to buy health insurance--whether or not they want it or feel they can afford it--or break the law and face penalties and fines. Consequently, the bill does not actually "cover" 30 million more Americans--instead it makes them criminals if they do not buy insurance from private companies. We hope you agree that it is unconscionable to force people to buy a product from a private insurer. This would effectively be a tax--and a huge one--paid directly to a private industry.

Mr. Ostrolenk explained to me, "to create and implement a clearly unconstitutional medical insurance mandate, the federal government will need to issue all Americans a medical identification number to ensure compliance with the law which would clearly be a national id system. It's all about more tracking and control of a free people."

The only way to enforce such a mandate is to implement a medical National ID. Massachusetts residents already have to file a medical form with their taxes to show compliance. Under the current Congressional proposals, such a scheme would constitute the worst aspects of a corporatist system using large corporate political donors to help monitor our personal medical information in cahoots with the Feds.