John Edwards plans to garnish wages for health care

I kid you not. It almost slipped under the radar with the CNN/YouTube debate controversy.

This from ABC News:

ABC News’ Teddy Davis Reports: Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is hoping to stand-out from rivals on health care by portraying the plan of rival Barack Obama as leaving 15 million uninsured and portraying Hillary Clinton as lacking the candor needed to get to universal coverage.

Nothing new there, here’s the details of his plan and how the coverage would be enforced:

Under the Edwards plan, when Americans file their income taxes, they would be required to submit a letter from an insurance provider confirming coverage for themselves and their dependents.

If someone did not submit proof of coverage, the Internal Revenue Service would notify a newly established regional or state-based health-care agency (which Edwards has dubbed a Health Care Market).

Those regional agencies would then evaluate whether the uninsured individual was eligible for Medicare (which covers those over 65), Medicaid (which covers the indigent), or S-CHIP (the State Children’s Health Insurance Program which targets the working poor).

If the individual was not eligible for either of those existing public programs, the regional-health care agency would enroll the individual into the lowest cost health-care plan available in that area. The lowest-cost option could be a new Medicare-like public option or a private insurance plan.

Here’s the kicker, read it twice:

If a person did not meet his or her monthly financial obligation for a set period of time (perhaps a year, perhaps longer) the Edwards plan would empower the federal government to garnish an individual’s wages for purposes of collecting “back premiums with interest and collection costs.”

So basically, here’s how it breaks down. If you are not covered by a government program, the federal government would have the right to enroll you in a local private health insurance plan and bill you for the premium. If you refuse to pay it, the federal government could then garnish your wages to force payment on a private health insurance premium you never wanted to begin with.

That is absolutely nuts. What if a person doesn’t qualify for a government run plan but doesn’t want to pay for private insurance? What if they just prefer to pay out of pocket for health care? Is John Edwards really going to force them, by wage garnishment, to be enrolled in private health insurance? In New York State, thanks to over regulation, the cheapest private health insurance is like $1,000 a month for low coverage.

Can you say overreaching of government power?

Can a John Edwards supporter explain this and/or defend this?