Funny. Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan — supported by Arkansas Republicans Tim Griffin, Rick Crawford and Steve Womack — includes as part of its ending of Medicare an "individual mandate" to require payment for insurance coverage — whether you can afford to actually buy it or not. Just like the individual mandate that all these same Republicans are hollering about in the Obama health reform plan.
The wrinkle here is Ryan's recent acknowledgment of his mandate — a characterization other Republicans have stoutly resisted, for the obvious comparative reasons.
All this tells us is that the mandate isn’t some horribly coercive policy aimed at usurping individual freedoms. Rather, it is a mechanism by which government attempts to encourage more individuals to purchase coverage and expand the size of the health care risk pool, thus spreading the costs and risks of insurance across a larger population (and bringing down health care costs). It’s simply asking able individuals to take personal responsibility for their health care expenses and it’s something Republicans have supported in the past and (apparently) still favor.