March 15, 2016 by Chris Kite
Ted Cruz has been running campaign ads in Illinois, and presumably elsewhere, that talk about how congress having an exemption from “Obamacare” is unfair and he would veto any such bill.
It sounds quite reasonable. Until you figure out that Congress is NOT exempt from “Obamacare.” So Ted Cruz is lying. But as things often go in politics, he is spinning this lie to somehow make it sound like what is happening is unreasonable and nefarious. In reality, it is not a big deal at all.
First of all, Congress gets their healthcare insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchange. So his implication that somehow they aren’t on the same plans as other Americans getting their insurance through the ACA healthcare exchanges is completely untrue.
I’m guessing what he is talking about is that Congress is getting a healthy subsidy for their insurance. Essentially, Congress declared itself a small business so that “the government” could continue to pickup about 72% of Congress’s health insurance costs. Which, historically, is what they have recently paid for Congressional employee’s healthcare insurance.
Small Businesses are allowed to shop on the healthcare exchanges and provide their employees health insurance. Businesses with over 50 employees must provide healthcare outside of the exchange or pay a penalty. So when Congress decided that they needed to be part of “Obamacare,” they put themselves in a bit of a bind. Because with over 50 employees they are not a small business. They would be a large employer if they were a corporation and they would be required to provide healthcare insurance to their employees or pay a fine. So it is a mess that Cruz’s Republicans got themselves into by trying to somehow prove a point that if Congress had to sign up for “Obamacare,” they would be so unhappy they would end it.
In order to have them sign up for “Obamacare,” with the existing rules, Congress would no longer get any “company” subsidy of their insurance. That would be, for all practical purposes, a significant pay cut (we can debate all day about whether or not Congress deserves its pay and benefits – but that is not what Cruz is debating). The average business in the US pays about 68% of their employee’s healthcare insurance, so 72% is not some unreasonable difference. And about 50% of Americans receive healthcare benefits through their employer.
So it is nothing new. Nothing is scandalous. There is nothing that somehow makes them exempt from the law.
But Ted Cruz and the Tea Party have been desperate to show that “Obamacare” has destroyed America. Their lies have been consistent and bold. From making up death panels to calling it a government takeover of healthcare to claiming it results in rationed healthcare, they have told bold lie after bold lie. But now that “Obamacare” has been in effect for a few years, it is becoming apparent that those bold lies are just that. Lies.
The truth is, Congress made a law requiring what is essentially a big business to get their healthcare insurance through “Obamacare,” which is not allowed, and then had to declare that big business a small business so that they didn’t receive a big benefit cut.
Since they really don’t have any facts to continue that fight, I guess Cruz has decided to just go on the air with campaign promises based on lies. Lies that somehow Congress is exempt from “Obamacare.” Which isn’t true.