Jack Roberts is a former GOP candidate for Governor of Oregon. The brewing court battle over health care reform | OregonLive.com Even without creating a government health insurance system, Congress could simply have imposed a tax dedicated to health care with an exemption for people who provided proof of insurance for themselves and their dependents. The exemption could be justified since people with insurance are, through their premiums, already helping cover part of the cost of uncompensated health care for the uninsured. The individual mandate essentially works the same way, since it is enforced only by a fine assessed on individual tax returns. Unfortunately, its supporters were so afraid their opponents would accuse them of raising taxes they went out of their way to make it clear that the fine imposed was a penalty and not a tax. If Democrats were thereby hoping to protect themselves politically, they clearly miscalculated. The question now is whether the Supreme Court will get hung up on obscure theories of commerce clause jurisprudence to strike down something that could have been easily accomplished under another label. Meanwhile, the specter for Republicans is the knowledge that if it turns out an individual mandate isn't constitutional, a single-payer government health plan clearly is.