Senator Ted Cruz has won the Iowa Republican caucuses. Over the weekend, Chris Wallace of Fox News challenged Mr. Cruz on his proposal “to sell health insurance across state lines,” citing research published by NCPA that concludes federal action to mandate this would be ineffective. The research in question is on this blog, here and here.
We got quite a bit of feedback yesterday on this topic. As a think tank, we endorse policies, not politicians. Nevertheless, some of our audience took Mr. Wallace’s question to reflect opposition to Senator Cruz.
In fact, Senator Cruz’ 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 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). NCPA published a comprehensive reform proposal for that event.
Few politicians in Congress prepared for this possibility. Senator Bill Cassidy did, and so did Senator Cruz and a handful of his colleagues. However, the Supreme Court got the case wrong, so any pressure on the Administration to change Obamacare through legislation evaporated.
So, Senator Cruz’ 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, Senator 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: Senator Marco Rubio also voted against the Medicare bill; while Senators Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders voted against the “taxibus,” for which Senator Rubio did not vote. So, NCPA’s policy positions are having a disproportionate influence on the presidential candidates!