Day: <span>July 23, 2014</span>

Health care lifeline in jeopardy; Cruz celebrates


The junior U.S. senator from Texas – the one with the jumbo ego and jeering disregard for most of his constituents — was at his worst this week, chortling over the prospect that thousands of working-class Texans could lose health care coverage.

Ted Cruz, who as a member of Congress has access to one of the best health care plans in the country, applauded a ruling by a federal appellate court that could price many of his hard-working constituents – including many educators and thousands of children in public schools – out of affordable health insurance.

He called the ruling a “huge victory for the American people,” a declaration conjured out of thin air and a total disregard for people who, unlike U.S. senators, sometimes have to struggle to make ends meet. If Cruz ever knew anything about that reality while growing up, he seems to have forgotten it now.

In case you missed it, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington ruled on Tuesday that the federal subsidies that have helped thousands of Texans afford health insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, are illegal in Texas and 35 other states because they didn’t establish their own state-run insurance exchanges.

Despite Cruz’s celebration, which was tied to a Republican fund-raising appeal, the court decision is not going to cause anyone to lose their subsidies or their insurance coverage, at least not yet, because the Obama administration will appeal the ruling. Also, later the same day in a separate case, a federal appellate court in Virginia upheld the subsidies.

Ultimately, the final decision will be made by the U.S. Supreme Court, which already has upheld most of the Affordable Care Act, despite Cruz’s repeated attempts to misrepresent the law as a lawless abuse of federal authority. Remember, his antics even led to a costly shutdown of the federal government for a while last year.

I don’t know how many Texas educators have purchased subsidized health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, but I suspect that many have, considering the continued, rising costs in Texas’ health plans for teachers. The state’s share of health insurance premiums for Texas educators has been frozen since 2002, while premium costs for some educators has increased by as much as 238 percent during that period.

And, those higher costs, despite what Cruz and other detractors would like everyone to believe, have absolutely nothing to do with Obamacare. Most predated Obamacare.

TSTA will press the Legislature next year to increase the state’s contribution to teacher health care. But, meanwhile, the federal option under the Affordable Care Act may be a lifeline for some educators, a lifeline that Cruz would love to sever.

He needs to sit down and shut up.