Texas Senator and the first man officially in the hunt for the 2016 GOP Presidential nomination Ted Cruz is giving serious consideration to signing up for Obamacare. The leading voice to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the man who personally back in September of 2013, helped House conservatives try to gut ObamaCare by holding up a government spending bill that led to a 16-day government shutdown, will be signing up at Healthcare.gov to protect his family as he should.
The Texas senator did not need to sign up for Obamacare last year because Goldman Sachs, his wife Heidi, a member of management of the company provided their family an untaxed health plan. Something very common as part of an executive perks package. Now that she’s taking unpaid leave to help him campaign for the presidency, the Goldman plan is at least temporarily suspended, and that leaves the Cruzes three choices: pay for the cobra part of the insurance, go uninsured, or sign up through his employer, the federal government.
But thanks to Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, the Affordable Care Act prohibits members of Congress from obtaining insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) program, the way most federal employees do. Instead, their benefits run through Obamacare.
Cruz framed the decision as one of inevitability. After all, a provision of the law requires members of Congress and some of their staff to purchase coverage through the law’s marketplace in DC and since his wife and current coverage provider is giving up her employer-sponsored plan to work on his presidential campaign, the family needed to enroll in a new policy.
“We’ll be getting new health insurance and we’ll presumably do it through my job with the Senate, and so we’ll be on the federal exchange with millions of others on the federal exchange,” Cruz told CNN’s Dana Bash, adding that he would not accept the health care law’s subsidy.
“I believe we should follow the text of every law, even laws I disagree with,” Cruz said. “It’s one of the real differences — if you look at President Obama and the lawlessness, if he disagrees with a law he simply refuses to follow it or claims the authority to unilaterally change.”
“It seems like the primary other option he would have is to take advantage of COBRA through his wife, though he’d be forgoing the employer contribution. He could also buy non-group coverage,” Larry Levitt, Senior Vice President at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said.
Cruz could also potentially purchased insurance through his presidential campaign’s presumptive health care insurance. In those instances, however, he would have had to give up his employer’s contribution and likely pay more for insurance than he is now being charged under Obamacare.
Despite initially telling CNN’s Dana Bash that Cruz didn’t pursue other alternatives because “Obamacare has wiped out the individual market, leaving Cruz with few options,” his staff is now explaining to reporters that Cruz might skip the DC exchange and sign up for coverage in Texas, through that state’s federal exchange. “As it happens, Cruz appears likely to forego the 75 percent employer contribution he could get as a member of Congress and instead access Obamacare from Texas, which doesn’t have a state exchange.”
The Daily Caller reports, adding, “That means Cruz would use HealthCare.gov to get health insurance, at the same time the Supreme Court is considering ruling taxpayer [subsidies] for federal exchange customers illegal.”
Senator Cruz is exercising his option should he buy insurance from Healthcare.gov and he should not be criticized for doing what is best for him and his family. The interesting thing is that should the Supreme Court rule against Obamacare then the Cruz family would be among the six million without insurance and he would be in the eye of the storm.