In Austin, Cruz Renews Attack on Obama, ACA

Ted Cruz at Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) conference Jan. 10, 2014
Ted Cruz at Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) conference Jan. 10, 2014

Speaking at the Texas Public Policy Foundation policy orientation Friday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz bashed the Obama administration for what he called a culture of “lawlessness,” saying that the administration picked and chose what legislation to follow.

Cruz cited exemptions for “big business” from the Affordable Care Act and delayed deadlines for the implementation of provisions of the law, commonly known as Obamacare, which requires most individuals to carry health insurance.

“Obamacare has single-handedly been an illustration in lawlessness at a breathtaking scale,” Cruz said during his keynote address in Austin for the conservative think tank.

The Obama administration delayed the launch to November 2014 of the ACA’s Small Business Health Options Program, known as the SHOP exchange, which would have created a similar insurance marketplace for small businesses to find health plans for their employees. The federal health insurance marketplace, healthcare.gov, has been riddled with technical problems. Administration officials say the website has improved drastically since its launch on Oct. 1, and they are hopeful that enrollment numbers will spike near March 31, the deadline for individuals to find health plans.

Emmanuel Garcia, a spokesman for the Texas Democratic Party, said Cruz and Texas Republicans aren’t offering solutions.

“With 6.4 million Texans lacking health insurance, Texas remains the nation’s capital of the uninsured,” Garcia said, adding that Cruz and Texas Republicans "continue to grandstand and choose rhetoric over common-sense solutions. It’s time for them to put the politics aside, focus on what matters, and get Texans the affordable care and insurance they deserve."

Cruz on Friday also criticized Obama for his promise that individuals would be able to keep their current health insurance under the new law.

The loss of existing health plans, because they do not meet the minimum standards of the new law, became a major complaint late last year. Following the rollout of healthcare.gov, Obama announced a policy reversal in November that would allow individuals to temporarily keep their current health plans after it was reported that several insurance companies would cancel some existing plans under the new law. The change came too late in the year for some health insurers to reverse course, and many policies were still canceled.

“There is a level at which all of this is ludicrous, but there is also a level at which all of this is dangerous and terrifying,” Cruz said to cheers from the crowd.

After his speech Friday, Cruz was asked about Obamacare and upcoming budget negotiations. The senator said he hoped there would not be another shutdown of the federal government.

Last year, Cruz was at the center of the budgetary face-off that eventually led to a partial shutdown of the government as part of an effort to repeal the federal health reform law. While he drew praise from grass-roots conservatives for drawing attention to concerns about the law, partisans on both sides of the aisle blamed him for instigating a no-win war against Democrats.

“We’ll see what happens in the particular battles in Washington,” said Cruz, who blamed the shutdown on Obama and congressional Democrats because they “refused to negotiate.”

Cruz said there are no alternatives to Obamacare and reiterated that he wanted to see it completely repealed so that new federal health reform could come from reforming health insurance laws to make policies “personal, portable and affordable.”

“I believe we should repeal every single word of Obamacare because it isn’t working,” Cruz said.

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