Ted Cruz and Health Reform

Senator Ted Cruz has won the Iowa Republican caucuses. Over the weekend, Chris Wallace of Fox News challenged Sen. Cruz on his proposal “to sell health insurance across state lines,” citing my argument that federal action to mandate this would be ineffective. The argument in question appeared in an op-ed in The Hill last October, although I have made it previously elsewhere.

In fact, Sen. Cruz’s proposal to sell health insurance across state lines does not appear in his presidential campaign platform. It is in a Senate bill he proposed last March, in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell. That case was decided last summer in favor of the Obama administration. If it had gone the other way, Obamacare would have collapsed in most of the states (which have federally facilitated health insurance exchanges, i.e. healthcare.gov).

Few politicians in Congress prepared for this possibility. Sen. Cruz and a handful of his colleagues did. However, the Supreme Court got the case wrong, so any pressure on the administration to change Obamacare through legislation evaporated.

So, Sen. Cruz’s bill to sell health insurance across state lines is best understood as a quick response to an opportunity that could have arisen. I cannot imagine this comprises his entire health reform proposal.

On the other hand, Sen. Cruz was on the right side of two recent issues, where most of his colleagues were wrong. Back in April, he was one of only eight senators to vote against the extremely flawed Medicare “doc fix” legislation. Last December, he was one of only 33 senators to vote against the also flawed “taxibus” legislation which deficit-funded Obamacare.

For those following the primary campaign: Sen. Marco Rubio also voted against the Medicare bill; while Senators Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders voted against the “taxibus,” for which Sen. Rubio did not vote. So, the Independent Institute’s policy positions are having a disproportionate influence on the presidential candidates!

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For the pivotal alternative to Obamacare, please see Independent Institute’s book, A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America, by John C. Goodman.

John R. Graham is a former Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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