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Cass R. Sunstein

Republicans Just Killed Their Own Health-Care Idea

How auto enrollment went from bipartisan support to no support.
Who doesn't like filling out forms?

Who doesn't like filling out forms?

Photographer: Chris Schneider/Getty Images

In 2009, prominent Republicans, skeptical of requiring people to buy health insurance under the legislation that became Obamacare, proposed an alternative approach: making large employers automatically sign employees up for health insurance, while also allowing them to opt out.

A version of this idea made its way into the Affordable Care Act. But as a result of this week’s budget deal, it is now out -- and Republicans are celebrating. How come? The answers shed new light on some thorny issues in behavioral economics, and also on contemporary politics.