One of Obamacare’s fiercest enemies will soon become its newest enrollee. Republican senator and newly minted presidential candidate Ted Cruz told CNN Tuesday he would be joining millions who obtained health insurance through the federal exchange.
With Cruz’s wife Heidi Nelson taking unpaid leave from her position at banking giant Goldman Sachs, the Texas senator will lose his access to health benefits.
Cruz was nonetheless able to use the opportunity to heap criticism on the Affordable Care Act. "I strongly oppose the exemption that President Obama illegally put in place for members of Congress,” Cruz said, suggesting that Senate Democrats didn’t want to abide by the same health mandates as the rest of the country.
When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, a compromise was added to require all members of Congress and their staffs to obtain health insurance coverage through the exchanges created by the law. The measure was meant to ensure lawmakers were intimately aware of how the program was working.
Enrolling through the exchanges entitles members of Congress to a contribution from the federal government. Called a subsidy by critics, it is the equivalent of the employer contribution received by most people insured through their jobs.
Republican members complained in the lead-up to the rollout of the law the provision would require them to sign on to plans that included coverage of abortion or abortive birth control methods.
The exchanges conduct an open enrollment period that begins in the fall and goes through the end of the year. But since Cruz's wife is losing her coverage due to a change in employment, he is eligible to enroll outside the regular window.
Cruz downplayed the irony of the episode. “I believe we should follow the text of every law,” he told CNN. In the midst of the government shutdown Cruz helped lead, the senator railed against congressional health subsidies.