(Considering alternatives is) a necessary strategy for desperate incumbents with bad poll numbers trying to seek reelection. For the administration, they will hold onto the individual mandate because they actually believe in it.
Sometimes the argument is made that we can't do all these things in insurance regulation and coverage without forcing people to buy insurance. You should back up a step and say if we have to force people to do something, maybe we shouldn't be doing it. But, they never want to acknowledge that part.
An alternative is to provide a positive incentive to people to want to buy insurance and stay covered, and reward them for it. So they think of it as not a penalty for being late, but as a benefit for doing the right thing in a responsible manner and you get these enhanced protections. That's using incentives in a voluntary and private market place.
Thomas P. Miller is a resident fellow at AEI.