One of the most vocal opponents of the U.S. Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is about to sign up for health insurance under the program.
Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, the first declared presidential candidate for 2016, said Tuesday that he was signing up for the coverage because it is a requirement for members of Congress. Cruz's family has been covered through his wife's employer, but he said she would be taking a leave of absence from her job to join him on the campaign trail.
The Texas senator has vowed to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care law if he becomes president. He told The Des Moines Register that he still wanted to see the program repealed, and that he believed it would be if a Republican succeeded Obama as president in 2017.
In late 2013, efforts by Cruz and other conservatives in Congress to gut Obamacare by holding up a government spending bill led to a 16-day shutdown of most of the federal government.
Previously, members of Congress were covered, like millions of other federal government employees, by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which includes a wide variety of private health care plans.
But because of an amendment to the Affordable Care Act pushed through by Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, members of Congress not eligible for Medicare must receive their government-funded health care through insurance exchanges like millions of other Americans who are not covered through their employers