WASHINGTON ― After voting more than a dozen times to repeal the Affordable Care Act and leading Senate Republican efforts to dismantle it, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Monday that the “good news” is that people can sign up for President Barack Obama’s signature health care law if they’ve lost their jobs and need health insurance amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The good news is that if you lose your employer-provided coverage, which covers about a 180 million Americans, that is a significant life event, which makes you then eligible to sign up for the Affordable Care Act,” Cornyn said in a PBS Austin interview. “As you know, it has a sliding scale of subsidies up to 400% of poverty. So that’s an option for people.”
Here’s a video of the interview. His ACA comments are around the 6-minute mark.
It’s quite a change of tune for Cornyn, who voted to repeal or defund the ACA (or to move forward with bills to do so) here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.
Cornyn’s job was to secure the votes to repeal the ACA in 2017 when he was the Senate GOP Whip, the third-highest-ranking Republican. He spoke confidently for months about having the votes to do it. But the bill ultimately failed at the hands of Senate Democrats and three Republicans.
A Cornyn spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Texas Democratic Party spokesman Abhi Rahman praised Cornyn for “finally supporting the Affordable Care Act” and welcomed him to join the party’s efforts to protect the law from people trying to overturn it in court. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is currently leading a coalition of 20 Republican states challenging the ACA before the Supreme Court.
“Cornyn can’t have it both ways,” Rahman said in a statement. “The question now becomes, where does Cornyn stand on the Paxton lawsuit to repeal Affordable Care for Texans who have recently lost their job?”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) seemed stunned to hear of Cornyn’s comments.
“Can you imagine? One of the leading people who is trying to dismantle health care now confronted with the crisis of corona, saying ‘Here’s good news, we have ACA?’ What hypocrisy,” Schumer said on a Wednesday call with Protect Our Care, a group focused on protecting the ACA. “But it also shows you where the public is ... If you ever wanted evidence that corona has strengthened people’s desire for health care despite what this Trump administration is trying to do, there it is.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said Cornyn tried to secure votes to repeal the ACA in 2007. He did so in 2017.
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