Florida Sen. Marco Rubio boasts of being the only Republican presidential candidate to have dealt a blow to Obamacare — but he’s also insured under the law.
Rubio’s campaign confirmed to NBC News that the GOP presidential candidate and his family remain insured under the law, through the D.C. exchange. He first signed up in 2013, at which point spokeswoman Brooke Sammon told the Tampa Bay Times that Rubio “spent time looking at all the options and decided to enroll through the D.C. exchange for coverage for him and his family.”
He’s not alone — Sen. Rand Paul signed up for health insurance under the law in 2013, as did all of congressional leadership at the time. Sen. Ted Cruz received insurance at the time from his wife’s employer, Goldman Sachs, and now has private insurance.
But Rubio’s decision to accept a federal subsidy offered to congressional lawmakers and their staff could complicate his declaration on the trail that he’s successfully undermined the law. Rubio frequently touts his efforts to eliminate what he calls a taxpayer-funded “bailout” included in Obamacare, a fund set up in the health care law to help offset losses experienced by insurers as they took on new patients and help keep premiums down.
The Florida senator, however, benefits from a taxpayer-funded subsidy offered only to members of Congress and their staff valued at $10,000, far greater than the subsidies offered to most Americans who purchase insurance on the exchanges. The subsidy was established after Congress passed a law requiring its members to be insured under Obamacare, a move that effectively eliminated the employer contribution they received prior to joining the exchanges. The $10,000 subsidy merely re-establishes that employer contribution.
Still, the decision by some Republicans to accept the subsidy while railing against the law drew criticism, and other GOP lawmakers, like Sen. Lindsey Graham, another GOP presidential contender, signed up for Obamacare but denied the subsidy.
Indeed, some Republican lawmakers have been pushing since 2013 to eliminate the subsidy, criticizing it, as Graham did in 2013, as a “special deal” for lawmakers. It could prove a particular sticking point for Rubio as his feud with Cruz heats up, as Cruz planned to file an amendment to a must-pass spending bill to eliminate the subsidy as recently as July of this year.
A Rubio spokesman confirmed the senator is still accepting the subsidy. In 2013, Rubio defended the move, telling the Miami Herald that “it’s an [employer] contribution.”
“It’s available to every employee of the federal government,” he said at the time.