(Bloomberg) — One day after Ted Cruz told college students in New Hampshire that he had no health insurance because the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) had caused the cancellation of his coverage, the Republican presidential candidate’s campaign walked back that assertion late Friday.
Contrary to what Cruz, a top contender for the GOP nomination, said on Thursday—”I don’t have health care right now”—it turns out the senator from Texas and his family appear to be insured after all.
A campaign spokeswoman said Cruz’s insurance policy was indeed cancelled but that he didn’t realize his provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, had automatically transitioned him and his family onto a new policy.
Here’s the statement provided to Bloomberg Politics by Cruz campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier:
“On December 31, Blue Cross cancelled the PPO health insurance policy covering the Cruz family. That plan was purchased on the individual market, using a private insurance broker, with no government funds. At the time, the broker informed Sen. Cruz that the plan was being cancelled. The broker did not inform him that Blue Cross had automatically enrolled the family in another policy, an HMO with far more limited coverage. Based on this information, Sen. Cruz believed the family was uninsured and asked the broker to pull quotes immediately for a new policy.
“The Cruz family is currently covered by a Blue Cross HMO and will be covered by a Humana PPO effective March 1. The new premium—for coverage similar to what the Cruz family had last year—is roughly 50 percent higher.”
Cruz, who is married and has two daughters, attributed his insurance situation to “the suffering that Obamacare has caused.” He told students at Saint Anselm College during a bus tour in New Hampshire that his family was “in the process of finding another policy. I hope by the end of the month we’ll have a policy for our family.”
“By the way, when you let your health insurance lapse your wife gets really ticked at you. It’s not a good — I’ve had some intense conversations with Heidi,” Cruz quipped, highlighting the “need to repeal [Obamacare] and start over.”
Cruz is a victim of a favorite Republican mantra: Make Congress follow the same laws it enacts for others. Prior to passage of PPACA, the lawmakers and staff members were eligible for the same benefits employees of the federal government received. Now, however, lawmakers and some staff are required enroll in health plans available to other Americans under the law.
As a result, Cruz found himself in a dilemma shared by many constituents: In July 2015, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas said it would end its preferred provider organization (PPO) plans on the individual market at the end of the year and transition to health maintenance organization (HMO) plans. “Since the Affordable Care Act began, the market has changed,” the organization said in an alert to customers at the time.
Blue Cross Blue Shield added, “We’re sharing this information well in advance of the required notification date so that you have plenty of time to research the plan options that best suit your needs.”
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