This post has been updated.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), perhaps America's foremost critic of Obamacare, might be signing up for Obamacare.
A day after announcing his presidential run, Cruz (R-Texas) told the Des Moines Register during an Iowa campaign stop that he expected to sign up for health insurance through a federally mandated exchange because the coverage he had been on -- a plan offered through wife Heidi's employer, Goldman Sachs -- will end because she is taking unpaid leave in order to help his campaign.
"We will presumably go on the exchange and sign up for health care and we're in the process of transitioning over to do that," he told the paper Tuesday.
Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler said Tuesday evening that a final decision had not been made: "Senator Cruz said he would ‘presumably’ use his employer health insurance, for which the only option is Obamacare," he said. "But there are other options that the senator is considering before making a final decision about how to make sure his family is insured."
If there's one issue that Cruz has ridden to political stardom, it's President Obama's signature health reform law. Cruz spent 21 hours on the Senate floor decrying the measure, then led Republicans into a two-week government shutdown over it. And the law figured into his campaign kickoff Monday: "Imagine in 2017 a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare," he said to applause.
Now Cruz, like more than 10 million other Americans, could be getting his health insurance through an exchange established under the law. And he has only his fellow Republican senators to blame: Previously, members of Congress were covered, like millions of federal employees, through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which includes a wide variety of private health care plans.
But Republicans, in a what's-good-for-the-goose maneuver, inserted a measure to make congressional members and staff subject to Obamacare by forcing them to procure insurance through an exchange, unlike the employees of other large employers, who under Obamacare remain free to buy health insurance directly from private insurers.
"The more that Congress experiences the laws it passes, the better," Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said at the time.
As a member of Congress, Cruz will not lack for choice: During the most recent open enrollment period last year, congressional employees had 68 plans to choose from at D.C. Health Link, the federally mandated exchange for the District of Columbia.
But Cruz may not be going to the D.C. exchange like others on Capitol Hill because it appears he will not be accepting the roughly 75 percent employer contribution to his health care costs, worth thousands of dollars, that he is entitled to as a member of Congress.
While Grassley insisted his amendment made "no changes to the employer contribution to federal employee health care coverage," conservative activists, including Heritage Action, have called the Obama administration's decision to continue a congressional employer contribution a "special Obamacare deal" for Congress -- even though most large employers pay for some share of their employees' insurance.
If so, instead of going to the D.C. exchange for an employer-sponsored plan, Cruz would be free to purchase an individual plan from the exchange in his home state -- which, because Texas has not established a state-based exchange, would be the federal HealthCare.gov site. And with a yearly salary of $174,000, he would almost certainly not be eligible for the tax-credit subsidies established by the federal overhaul.