Republican U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz attends a Penn. campaign kickoff event held on N.Y. presidential primary night at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Penn. on April 19, 2016.
Photo by Charles Mostoller/Reuters

Cruz’s line on pre-existing conditions is badly at odds with reality

In an era in which gaslighting has become an everyday problem in politics, watching Republican opponents of the Affordable Care Act and its central provisions pretend to be progressive on health care policy is a bewildering experience. But some examples are more bewildering than others.

The estimable Charles Gaba has started compiling a list of GOP officials and candidates who are scrambling to assure voters that they fully support protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, despite taking a series of steps to take those protections away. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), however, stands out as an especially egregious case.

Here’s the line he took last night in Texas, at a debate with Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D):

“We can protect pre-existing conditions, and you need to understand, everyone agrees we’re going to protect pre-existing conditions.”

If so, “everyone” came to this agreement very recently – and then forgot to tell anyone.

Look, Ted Cruz isn’t the first Republican to pretend to support the key pillars of “Obamacare,” but given his ferocious efforts on the issue, his rhetoric is arguably the most laughable.

We are, after all, talking about a GOP senator who authored the Cruz Amendment, which private insurers explained would “undermine protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions.”

The Texas Republican also led a government-shutdown effort in the hopes of preventing the ACA from being implemented – in effect, blocking the law that would protect those with pre-existing conditions – and vowed as a presidential candidate to repeal “every word” of the health care reform law, which would necessarily mean eliminating the safeguards for those with pre-existing conditions.

Earlier this summer, Cruz expressed support for a Republican lawsuit intended to gut the Affordable Care Act, and if the litigation succeeds, it would strip millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions of their protections.

The politics of health care have clearly changed of late, and it’s very likely Ted Cruz has seen the same polls as the rest of us. But to believe the senator’s rhetoric from last night, we’d have to ignore everything he’s said and done on the subject for many years.