And did Republican leaders support it?
Some did, and when President Bill Clinton started pushing his failed health-care reform plan in the 1990s, the GOP presented the Heritage Foundation approach as an alternative. Twenty Republican co-sponsors supported a Senate bill that formally proposed the individual mandate, but the idea faded when Clinton's effort failed. In 2004, Mitt Romney, then governor of Massachusetts, revived the idea as part of a health-care overhaul for his state, which he signed into law in 2006. Romney, the GOP frontrunner for the 2012 election, is now vowing that, if elected president, he'll scrap Obama's federal version of the mandate.
Why have Republicans turned on the idea?
Out of political expedience, according to critics. Until ObamaCare came along, says David Frum at The Daily Beast, conservatives insisted the idea was "the secret to a well-functioning national health-care system." Now some of those same people claim "a health-care mandate is tantamount to the extinction of economic freedom" because it's convenient to say so. Still, let's not overstate the individual mandate's conservative roots, says Ramesh Ponnuru at National Review. A minority of think-tank types have always liked the idea, and some Republicans embraced it when they were forced to find an alternative to "HillaryCare."