This is what Nancy Pelosi means by a public option: buy health insurance or become wards of the state:
[F]ailure to comply with the individual mandate to buy health insurance contained in the Pelosi health care bill (H.R. 3962, as amended) could land people in jail. The [Joint Committee on Taxation] letter (link opens PDF document) makes clear that Americans who do not maintain “acceptable health insurance coverage” and who choose not to pay the bill’s new individual mandate tax (generally 2.5% of income), are subject to numerous civil and criminal penalties, including criminal fines of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.
Has anyone in Congress, other than Sen. Orrin Hatch, asked whether it’s constitutional for the federal government to coerce citizens into buying insurance?