Not only was the mandate to have health insurance an idea that the GOP championed for years, but one of its best defenses was made by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (before he flip-flopped). "Some of my libertarian friends balk at what looks like an individual mandate," Romney said in a 2006 Wall Street Journal commentary. "But remember, someone has to pay for the health care that must, by law, be provided: Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay. A free ride on government is not libertarian."Romney didn't mention that the individual mandate is also needed if the government is going to prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions (otherwise people will wait to buy insurance until they know they have an expensive medical problem, which is unfair to insurers). That's why the House GOP plan, which didn't include a mandate, didn't include this ban.