Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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Ted Cruz's wife Heidi defended the Texas senator against claims his Canadian birth may make him ineligible to be president, after being asked on a local radio station in Iowa whether she was "sleeping with a an immigrant."

"I feel silly bringing this up, but I guess it's out there and it's being used as a tool," the host of a radio show on station 1400AM KVFD, said last week, as surfaced by Buzzfeed Monday. "Mrs. Cruz -- Heidi Cruz, Would you please respond to the fact of whether you’re sleeping with a, uh, uh, uh, uh, an immigrant?"

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In a reversal from claims made on the campaign trail, Ted Cruz's presidential campaign is now saying the senator and his family do have health insurance and never lost coverage. The late night Friday revelation came more than 24 hours after Cruz had told a New Hampshire audience that he and his family were without health insurance and were scrambling to obtain new coverage--and used the claim to slam Obamacare for the mess he was in.

In statements to Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal, campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier blamed Cruz's false assertion that his family had lost their health insurance on a misunderstanding. She said an insurance broker told Cruz that BlueCross BlueShield of Texas was dropping his PPO plan, but Frazier said that the broker did not tell Cruz his family was automatically being transferred to the carrier's HMO plan.

"Based on this information, Sen. Cruz believed the family was uninsured and asked the broker to pull quotes immediately for a new policy," Frazier said.

Thursday, the senator had said he "got a notice in the mail" that "Blue Cross Blue Shield was leaving the market." When TPM had asked BCBS of Texas when and how had it notified members about changes to their coverage, an official pointed to an announcement in July that explained that the insurer was dropping its PPOs but its HMO plans would be available for consumers.

"We worked with the members and their providers to minimize the impact of this change to their ongoing care, particularly if they needed to transfer their care to other providers," BCBS-Texas spokeswoman Edna Pérez-Vega told TPM via email.

Thursday Cruz had also claimed that his search for new insurance was complicated because his "premiums are going up 50 percent."

This allegation came as premiums on average in Texas went up only 4 percent in 2016, and the single biggest premium jump came from a tiny carrier that is raising premiums by 34 percent.

In explaining this claim by Cruz, Frazier said his family has opted to switch over to a new carrier starting in March with a plan more generous than the HMO that is currently covering him.

"The new premium—for coverage similar to what the Cruz family had last year—is roughly 50 percent higher," Frazier said.

Finally, the statement said that his former BlueCross BlueShield PPO plan had been purchased "with no government funds." Aside from the subsidies offered to users of the Obamacare exchange, the senator is eligible for insurance subsidized by his government employer, but has turned the option down.

That coverage must be purchased through the Washington, D.C. exchange -- due to a Republican amendment in the Affordable Care Act requiring Congress members and their staff to use the Obamacare marketplace. But it comes with an employer subsidy that covers about three-quarters of monthly premiums.

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As the bromance between Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) continues to sour, Cruz attempted to put himself to the right of Trump on immigration by accusing Trump of being pro-"amnesty."

"So Donald Trump's position is once you deport them, it's what's called touchback. A lot of establishment Republicans had touchback," Cruz said in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that aired Friday. "Basically you make them fly back to their country for a minute, touch the ground, and then they come back with amnesty as citizens. Now, Donald is entitled to do that. He can advance that position, but he doesn't get to pretend that it's not amnesty if he's legalizing 12 million people [who are] here illegally."

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It was not unexpected that the Supreme Court took up a case Tuesday challenging the Obama administration's executive actions on immigration. But it was somewhat of a surprise that in doing so, the court asked to be briefed on whether the memo outlining the administration's policy “violates the Take Care Clause of the Constitution” -- a question which was not addressed directly in lower court decisions and not among those the U.S. government included in its petition.

Its inclusion by the Supreme Court raises the stakes on the suit by opening up the possibility that the court is interested in hearing arguments that the executive action has violated not just administrative protocol or even statutory law, but the Constitution. A ruling by the court on that basis could redefine the parameters of executive power just as Obama is maximizing his use of unilateral action to bypass Congress in the waning days of his presidency.

“It would certainly be quite a surprising and dramatic result to say people can sue the government to say you're not enforcing the law the way we’d like. That would be a very dramatic change,” Andrew Pincus, a Supreme Court advocate supportive of the administration's position, told TPM.

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This month, Republicans in Congress achieved what they declared to be a major victory: they sent an Obamacare repeal to the president’s desk as test-run for next year, when they say there will be a Republican president in office to sign it.

But there’s just one problem with that plan. The details have been scant as to what the GOP presidential candidates -- who have uniformly railed against the Affordable Care Act -- intend to enact in its place.

After five years of promises to deliver an Obamacare replacement plan -- more than 20 such promises by one count --the GOP Congress still hasn't produced. And the same mix of political perils and policy paralysis that has hamstrung the Republicans on the Hill has left the party's presidential contenders with paltry real health care proposals that are short on details and long on vague assurances. The party that has spent years avoiding grappling with the economic, political, and policy complexities of health care reform seems no closer now that it was when Obamacare first became law.

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Days of campaign back-and-forth over health care came to a head Thursday evening as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) released an outline for his universal, single payer plan hours before Sunday evening's debate and once onstage, Clinton refined her attacks.

"I'm not sure whether we are talking about the plan you just introduced tonight or the plan you introduced nine times in Congress," Clinton chided.

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In a response to Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) release of the outline for his single-payer health plan, Hillary Clinton's campaign accused Sanders of "making" the details up "as he goes along.”

"And after weeks of denying the legitimacy of the questions Hillary Clinton raised about flaws in the health care legislation he’s introduced 9 times over 20 years, he proposed a new plan two hours before the debate," Clinton campaign spokesperson Brian Fallon said in a statement "Hillary Clinton knows what it takes, and has what it takes, to protect the gains of the Affordable Care Act and secure quality, affordable health care for all Americans."

Fallon went on: "When you’re running for President and you’re serious about getting results for the American people, details matter—and Senator Sanders is making them up as he goes along.”

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A state legislator in Arizona is circulating a measure among her colleagues that would call for a constitutional convention to address whether Sen. Ted Cruz is eligible to run for president, The Arizona Republic reported.

The measure being floated by Republican state Rep. Kelly Townsend would have the state legislature request a constitutional convention to determine what the Constitution's "natural born" requirement means. For such a constitutional convention to be convened, two-thirds of the state's legislatures must request it.

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