and am pressing to have incorporated in the bill that says if an
insurance company sells a sufficient number of plans that are
consistent with the Title I mandates within a given “rating area”
— that means counties, metropolitan areas, or groups of zip codes
— it can also sell any other plan consumers desire within that rating
area. That will allow consumers in Texas or any other state who
are facing skyrocketing premiums the option, instead, of buying
lower-cost health insurance plans without the costly mandates from
the federal government that are making the plans unaffordable.
RUSH: Does your amendment eliminate the mandates?
CRUZ: It does not. Now if it were up to me, I’d eliminate the
mandates in a heartbeat. I voted to do so in the past, and I would
do so without hesitation. Unfortunately, we don’t have the votes in
the Senate to repeal the mandates. A number of the more moderate
members have expressed strong opposition to repealing the mandates, so I’m trying to get the job done of repealing Obamacare
given the reality of the votes we’ve got.
That’s where the Consumer Freedom Amendment
came from, because it lets those in the Republican
conference who want to maintain the mandates do so,
but it also lets consumers out from the burden of the
mandates by letting you and I purchase the policies we
want without everything included in it being mandated
from the federal government.
RUSH: Sounds reasonable. What is it about the mandates that the moderates are wedded to? Why can’t they
let them go?
CRUZ: I think there is concern about being demagogued on
health care. There’s concern that the Democrats and the main-
stream media together will echo their standard talking points
about sick people being left without good options. One of the
points I’ve tried to make is, “Listen, the Democrats and the media
are going to demagogue us no matter what. They are hardcore
leftists who support single-payer socialized medicine, so whatever
we do, if we wake up and say ‘Good morning,’ they’re going to
demagogue us. So rather than live life in fear of the media criti-
cism for standing up for conservative principles, let’s do the right
thing. Let’s actually deliver for our constituents.”
Campaigning for seven years on repealing Obamacare and
failing to honor that promise is a terrible political scenario. An even
worse scenario, however, is if we pass a bill entitled “Obamacare
Repeal,” pat ourselves on the back, and then in the fall of next year
everyone gets notices that premiums have skyrocketed another 20
percent, just like they did under Obamacare. That’s how you get a
Speaker Pelosi or a Leader Chuck Schumer.
RUSH: I totally understand that. So the thinking behind a mandate is
that this is how you fund it? Your amendment gives them flexibility,
but you still require them to buy something which funds enough of
the program to cover those who can’t pay for it themselves?
CRUZ: It operates differently than that. There are multiple
mandates. Let me walk through them, because the word “mandate”
can be confusing. There are three different mandates to think
about. There is the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and
then the Title I mandates. The individual mandate is the mandate
on all of us to purchase health insurance or else be fined by the IRS.
The current Senate bill eliminates the individual mandate. That’s a
good thing. The second mandate is the employer mandate. It’s the
mandate on employers that they have to provide insurance if there
are over 50 employees. That’s a major job killer. It’s hammering
small businesses across the country.
RUSH: Creating a lot of part-time workers.
CRUZ: Right. The current Senate bill eliminates the employer
mandate as well. So those two mandates go away, and that’s a very
positive aspect of the current bill.
RUSH: Those are huge. Good riddance.
CRUZ: The third set of mandates are
what are called the Title I mandates.
That’s Title I of Obamacare, and it’s 12
specific mandates on what every insurance policy has to cover.
RUSH: The “essential health benefits,”
in other words.
RUSH: So nobody wants to get rid of
CRUZ: That’s where the pushback is,
on getting rid of the Title I mandates
on what has to be in insurance. Because
if you eliminate the mandate that every
health insurance policy has to cover
maternity care, the Democrats and
media demagogue you — that you
apparently hate mothers. I did a small
business roundtable in Odessa, Texas where one gentleman, the
owner of a steakhouse, told me about his 101-year-old aunt who had
her health insurance canceled because it didn’t have maternity
coverage. He said, “At 101, she was just fine with not having
maternity coverage on her policy.”
RUSH: It’s literally absurd. Look, I understand the fears a lot of
Republicans have on this demagoguery, but good grief, it’s leading
to paralysis. I know you’re not afraid of it. In fact, of all the guys to
be brokering this, the last guy that anybody would think would be
in the middle of it would be you, after the tense past couple years
you’ve had with the Republican Leader. I remember all the people
who said your Senate career was finished; now look at you. You are
trying to broker peace. It’s a great testament to you.
Let me ask you about the Senate bill. In March, I had people in
the White House pitching me on the “three-phase” approach. The
first phase was that House bill they had to pull. But their argument
was, “We’re going to leave enough of Obamacare intact to leave all
that power vested in HHS Secretary Tom Price now, instead of
Napolitano. So we’ll pass the bill, and when it comes to the
‘essential health benefits,’ we’ll let Price take them out, just as
“It’s like Charlie Brown with Lucy and the football. Conservatives are
always told, ‘Run up and kick the football’ — and they keep pulling
it away. Voters are catching on to this game.” — SEN. TED CRUZ