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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