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The Curious Case of Ted Cruz and the ACA

On Monday, March 23, 2015, Senator Ted Cruz, R-Tex, became the first GOP candidate to announce his intention to run for President in 2016. An vigorous opponent of the Affordable Care Act, which celebrates its fifth birthday in March, Sen. Cruz vowed to appeal “every single word of Obamacare,” proclaiming the ACA has put thousands of Americans out of work and has been nothing but detrimental to our country.

The next day in a CNN interview, when Sen. Cruz was asked about his health insurance status, he revealed he was losing coverage he had under his wife, Heidi, from Goldman Sachs, as she is taking an extended unpaid leave to support his campaign. Sen. Cruz said, “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.” When asked if he would accept the government subsidy available to lawmakers and staffers, Sen. Cruz said he would “follow the text of the law.”

An internet storm ensued, with many writers and reporters calling Sen. Cruz a hypocrite. It even inspired CNN’s Political Contributor Paul Begala to parody the beloved Dr. Seuss book “Green Eggs and Ham,” turning Sam-I-Am to “Ted-I-Am” –

I do not like it
for the Senate.
I do not like it
for a minute.
I do not like it
here or there.

I do not like it

 All jokes aside, I found this story very intriguing.  The tone of his CNN interview implies he has no other choice than to sign up through the exchange. Think Progress’s Igor Volsky points out this is not the case at all. Igor notes, “The Affordable Care Act does not compel members of Congress to enroll in DC’s health care exchange; it simply cuts off the government contribution to their insurance plans if they buy their policies elsewhere.” By asserting he has to go on the Exchange and enroll in a program he has vowed to repeal, Sen. Cruz seems to be seeking the sympathy of voters opposed to the ACA, thereby making him a more relatable candidate.

Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post makes a keen observation. Linkins says, “I would submit to you that, far from a gaffe, this is actually a fairly shrewd gambit from Cruz. The part where Cruz likens himself to the “millions of others on the federal exchange,” is a key tell. Cruz, having firmly established himself as Obamacare’s most ardent philosophical opponent, will now have the chance to oppose the law as a participant.”

Personally, I will be watching this story to see where it lands. If Sen. Cruz does indeed enroll for coverage through the Washington DC health exchange, I want to know. I want to about his experience with the Exchange and how easily he was able to navigate the system.  I am hopeful that by participating in the Exchange, Sen/ Cruz will acquire a deeper, more meaningful understanding of just how important this mandate is for people who have lacked health insurance coverage for years. Stayed tuned to see how this turns out!



Featured image courtesy of Flickr under Creative Commons license

About Tonya Wiley

Writer, trainer and consultant Tonya Wiley taps into her inner Wonder Woman by fighting for health equity for all. Find her on Twitter nerding out on pop culture and engaging in varied conversations. Learn more about Tonya here.

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