Texas' John Cornyn decides ACA access is 'good news' after all

Texas' John Cornyn spent a decade trying to tear down "Obamacare." Now, however, he describes ACA access as "good news" for his constituents.
Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn
John Cornyn (R-Texas)Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) sat down for an interview yesterday with PBS Austin's Judy Maggio, who raised concerns about "holes in the safety nets" affecting many Texans. Specifically, the host noted that as more people lose their jobs during the pandemic, they're also losing their health security. Maggio asked the Senate Republican about possible federal efforts for those who are now "wondering what they're going to do for health insurance."

Cornyn's response was ... unexpected.

"Well, the good news is that if you lose your employer-provided coverage, which covers about 180 million Americans, that is a significant life event, which makes you then eligible to sign up for the Affordable Care Act -- and as you know, it has a sliding scale of subsidies up to 400% of poverty. So that's an option for people.... [T]he good news is people can find, get coverage under the Affordable Care Act or via Medicaid based on their income."

To be sure, the GOP senator's comments were correct. As millions of Americans lose their health security along with their jobs, it is, in fact, good news that many of these people will be able to enroll for subsidized "Obamacare" coverage. It's an important reminder and I'm glad Cornyn answered the question the way he did.

But there's an important disconnect between the message and the messenger.

Over the last decade, Cornyn has been among the ACA's most relentless opponents. The Texas Democratic Party yesterday put together a list of instances in which Cornyn voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and the list wasn't at all short.

In 2017, as the Republican effort to destroy the nation's existing health care system reached its peak, there were a variety of relevant players, but Politico labeled Cornyn "Obamacare repeal's top salesman."

And yet, here we are, watching the GOP senator -- did I mention that Cornyn is up for re-election this year? -- direct his constituents to the Affordable Care Act as a worthwhile lifeline for families in need of health security.

The Texas Republican's message, in effect, was, "The good news is, I failed in my efforts to tear down the ACA, so people can still take advantage of the law I fought to destroy."