NEW: After interview, Cruz spokesperson says senator won't take government contribution to purchase Obamacare
Ted Cruz is going on Obamacare.
The newly announced Republican presidential candidate told CNN’s Dana Bash on Tuesday that he will sign up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act – a law he has been on a crusade to kill.
“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 said.
Asked whether he would accept the government contribution available to lawmakers and congressional staffers for their health care coverage through the ACA, Cruz said he will “follow the text of the law.”
“I strongly oppose the exemption that President Obama illegally put in place for members of Congress because (Senate Minority Leader) Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats didn’t want to be under the same rules as the American people,” Cruz said, before repeating: “I believe we should follow the text of the law.”
Under the Affordable Care Act, members of Congress and some designated congressional staffers are required to obtain health care coverage through the D.C. Health Link Small Business Market. The Office of Personnel Management’s guidelines state that lawmakers and their staff receive a “government contribution” if they get health care coverage through the ACA.
But some lawmakers have declined to accept the contribution, saying they do not want to get special treatment. After the interview, a Cruz spokesperson clarified that he wouldn’t take the contribution.
Cruz’s admission comes one day after CNN first reported that the senator would no longer have access to health benefits through his wife’s employer, Goldman Sachs. Heidi Cruz, a managing director at the firm’s Houston office, has gone on unpaid leave for the duration of the senator’s presidential campaign and will not have access to the company’s benefits during that time.
Cruz’s campaign appeared caught by surprise Monday by questions about the senator’s health care. Asked how Cruz’s family would be covered after his wife lost her Goldman Sachs benefits, Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler repeatedly answered that he didn’t know.
It’s a deeply ironic development for the Texas conservative firebrand, who vaulted to fame during his few years in the Senate in large part by denouncing President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law. He led an effort to defund the law that contributed to the 2013 government shutdown.
Cruz denied that there was anything ironic about him going on Obamacare, saying he was simply following the law.
“I believe we should follow the text of every law, even laws I disagree with,” Cruz told CNN. “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.”
After the publication of this story, Cruz advisers said there was nothing unusual about the senator signing up for insurance coverage through his employer. They argued that Obamacare has wiped out the individual market, leaving Cruz with few options.
Cruz said he will continue advocating for repealing the law.
“What is problematic about Obamacare is that it is killing millions of jobs in this country and has killed millions of jobs,” Cruz said. “It has forced millions of people into part time work. It has caused millions of people to lose their insurance, to lose their doctors and to face skyrocketing insurance premiums. That is unacceptable.”
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.