Among many tea party types, paying a penalty for having an insurance plan outside of Obamacare would be something of a badge of honor. Conservative journalist Matt Drudge famously claimed he had already paid a “liberty tax” for not getting coverage under Obamacare for his small business, a claim that was met with skepticism since the penalty hasn’t yet been enforced. Other tea party groups have touted stories about regular people who are “happy” to pay the penalty rather than be covered under the law.
So why is New Hampshire state Rep. Marilinda Garcia (R), a vocal critic of Obamacare, so defensive about what kind of health care coverage she has?
When pressed on the subject last week during an interview with New Hampshire Public Radio, she first said she didn’t want to talk about it, then clarified she wasn’t getting insurance through Obamacare, then followed up with the NHPR to say she was definitely covered but didn’t say how.
When she later spoke to the New Hampshire Union-Leader, her campaign clarified that she has a catastrophic care short-term plan while she runs for New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District, that she purchased it month-to-month, and that it’s outside of Obamacare.
On Monday TPM pressed her campaign for a fuller explanation. When did she obtain the current plan? Is it compliant with Obamacare requirements for new health insurance policies? Was she was grandfathered in because she bought it before Obamacare took effect? Is it a sub-standard plan subjecting her to a penalty under Obamacare for failure to have insurance? Is she willing to pay the penalty?
A campaign official did acknowledge Monday that Garcia’s plan was non-compliant. Campaign manager Tom Szold said he would look into the other questions and get back to TPM with a statement later that day. By Tuesday afternoon the campaign had not provided a statement and no longer was responding to TPM’s inquiries.
New Hampshire has a part-time legislature that does not provide health coverage. Garcia, according to the Union Leader, also lives with her parents and sister Bianca, also a member of the state legislature. She’s older than the age-26 cutoff for obtaining coverage under her parents’ health insurance plan. She has also said she supplements her income with work as a harp teacher at schools in Concord, N.H., Massachusetts, and the Philips Exeter Academy.