Individual Mandate Was a Conservative Idea, WH Spokesman Reminds Reporters

By Susan Jones | June 28, 2012 | 7:09 AM EDT

( - White House spokesman Jay Carney says the White House is awaiting the Supreme Court's decision on the Affordable Care Act just as everyone else is, and "we will be ready for the decision when in comes down."

And if the law's main funding mechanism -- the individual mandate -- is struck down? Well, that was a conservative idea anyway:

"Since you mentioned it, the mandate, the individual mandate, was a product of a conservative think tank," Carney told a reporter who brought up the topic.

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"It was adopted by many leaders in the Republican Party in the '90s. It was adopted by and implemented by a Republican governor in Massachusetts. And while the President opposed it in the campaign, he -- in the process of crafting a health care reform bill in office -- was persuaded by experts in the field that it was the best and most efficient way to ensure that we can bring the largest number of people into and under coverage -- getting insurance coverage, and to allow for the -- to ensure that those with preexisting conditions get health care coverage."

Asked if Obama, in hindsight, still believes the mandate was the right way to go, Carney said, "He continues to believe that that was the most efficient and effective way to build on our private insurance system, to provide coverage to the most people in the most efficient way, and provide the benefits that I’ve described."

Carney said it seems that Republicans have made a "concerted decision" to abandon the individual mandate -- a "very mainstream conservative" idea -- once it was adopted by Democrats.

Carney insisted that "many, many legal scholars" have found the health care law to be constitutional -- and he stressed the "free" services that it bestows on American consumers.

"We await the Supreme Court decision, as does everyone, but while we do, we continue to implement the law.  And I would note that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 3.1 million more young adults who otherwise would have been uninsured have health insurance on their parent's plan, 5.3 million seniors with Medicare have saved $3.7 billion on their prescription drugs, and everyone on Medicare can get preventive services like mammograms for free -- again, because of the Affordable Care Act.  And 54 million Americans with private insurance can now receive many preventive services without paying co-payments or deductibles."

Asked how the president will learn about the Supreme Court ruling, Carney said, "Well, we turn on televisions and radios and computers, and watch SCOTUS blog." He said the president will not receive advance word from a "airtight" Supreme Court.