Ted Cruz vs. Twitter: Does Obamacare Hurt Americans?

The tea party senator declared that “virtually every person” in the US has seen health insurance premiums rise due to the new law. Tweeps across the land say otherwise.

Screenshot: <a href="https://twitter.com/larrygasch/status/390597802893398016">@larrygasch</a>/Twitter

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On Wednesday afternoon, as news was spreading that House Speaker John Boehner had surrendered and a no-conditions-attached bipartisan plan to end the shutdown and debt ceiling crisis would be approved later in the day by the Senate and House, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the tea party’s disrupter-in-chief, held an impromptu press conference in a Capitol hallway to declare victory, or something like it. The fellow who led the GOP further into a PR abyss hailed the political crisis that was ending (at least for now) as “a remarkable thing” and claimed that it showed that “millions upon millions” had risen up against Obamacare. Then Cruz, the tail that wagged the Republican dog, launched into a diatribe against the Affordable Care Act: “President Barack Obama promised the American people Obamacare would lower your health insurance premiums. I would venture to say that virtually every person across this country has seen exactly the opposite happen, has seen premiums going up and up and up.”

Really? Every American in every city, town, village, and hamlet? On my Twitter feed, I called on PolitiFact.com, the highly regarded fact-checking outfit, to vet this statement. But before the truth-chasers of that site could say “pants on fire,” I started to receive tweets from Americans across the country telling tales of how Obamacare has lowered premiums for them or provided better insurance at similar rates. As these reports poured in, I retweeted the most compelling testimonials, and more pro-ACA anecdotes appeared. I also received tweets from people who noted they have benefited from Obamacare in other ways, such as receiving coverage previously denied due to preexisting conditions. In several instances, tweeps cited the ACA as life-changing, if not life-saving. (At one point, I suggested that the White House might be smart to compile such tweets under the hashtag #ACAWorks.) A few respondents did note the ACA was not working for them, and I retweeted several of those tales.

Obviously, I cannot vouch for details zapped my way by strangers. But many of the pro-Obamacare anecdotes had a similar tone: thank God for this. This was, of course, not a scientific poll or professional collection of data. No doubt, my Twitter feed probably is followed by far more Obama supporters than detractors (though sometimes I wonder about that, given all the conservative trolling on it). Yet I would venture to say that this response contradicts Cruz’s extreme claim that “virtually every person” has been hit by a premium hike due to Obamacare.

Below are some of those tweets I received. Many of these abbreviated stories are rather heartening. Imagine if they do reflect the experiences of millions of Americans. By the way, PolitiFact did evaluate Cruz’s claim. It rated his assertion “false.”

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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