A mandate can mean many different things. Personal mandates give individuals the right to purchase their own health care in a free market system. I would say that Massachusetts demonstrates the potential for individual mandates because it is a conservative state. Mitt Romney has already worked hard on achieving personal mandates there.
Massachusetts was a great example when showing the rest of the country the need for mandates it was simply the model to base the ACA off of. Now many people across the country will have access to health care essentially thanks to Massachusetts it is a step in the right direction.