Reader: Ted Cruz 'dead-on' about cancelled health plans in Texas

The Democratic National Committee distributed this video snip of Sen. Ted Cruz, the Republican presidential hopeful, talking about his loss of health coverage at a Jan. 21, 2016, appearance in New Hampshire (YouTube video).

Pants on Fire, we recently said, to Sen. Ted Cruz’s declaration that Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas had "cancelled all their individual (health care) policies in the state of Texas, effective Dec. 31."

By email, readers said we misfired.

One reader wrote: "Clearly you didn’t have your Blue Cross PPO plan canceled on you this year.  If your family, like mine, finds an HMO an unacceptable solution after more than a decade of PPO coverage, you wouldn’t rate Mr. Cruz’s comments as Pants-on-Fire, but perhaps Half True.

"In dropping PPO coverage, Blue Cross Blue Shield basically left me with no choice but to go elsewhere for insurance. The Affordable Care Act has indeed helped many people get insurance, and I get that we all need to help others. But for those of us who have been self-insured for years, our options are far more limited than ever before and costs are higher. I believe in spirit, Mr. Cruz was dead-on."

A second reader said our analysis hit some points, missed others: "BCBSTX individual PPOs written BEFORE the Affordable Care Act became law were ‘grandfathered’ or not affected by the cancellation of individual PPO policies.  i.e. those individuals still have individual PPO type policies from BCBSTX.  Further, corporation provided (i.e. employer provided) PPOs are still being offered in Texas by BCBSTX....

"That those affected did receive notice in order to effect a replacement policy by Jan. 1, 2016, is not questioned, however the quality of that policy is indeed subject to question. Converting to an HMO is a much less desirable option as it decreases immediate access to medical specialists since one has to go through a ‘gatekeeper’ doctor…

"I have no partisan angle here, I just want to see fully accurate reporting about someone else’s potential inaccuracies, i.e. Mr. Cruz’s, particularly on a topic as contentious as the ACA.  Rating his comments as ‘Pants on Fire’ does a disservice to the readership of your column if all the facts have not been comprehended, which I opine, they have not been. Thus, until modified, I rate your analysis of Mr. Cruz’s comments as ‘Half True.’  A good start on your part, but not complete."

Another reader said we failed to acknowledge the downgrade from PPO plans to HMO offerings. "To many folks, HMO-based healthcare is not acceptable as insurance. I don't want (government) nor the insurance companies mandating what doctors I see. PPO plans worked for 50+ years, until ObamaCare. Now my family is suffering with having to find and use new doctors, much higher costs for medicine than last year, and most importantly requirements to use different and cheaper medicines."

Then again, another reader indicated Cruz had a raft of health care options that others lack: "In attacking the" Affordable Care Act and President Barack Obama, the reader wrote,  "Cruz failed to tell his audience that he and his family had been eligible for coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which offered over 300 different private plans with the U.S. government paying 72% or more of the premiums.  Members of Congress also qualified for other medical benefits not available for ordinary federal workers or retirees, like myself.   After adoption of the ACA, members of Congress are now required to purchase private health insurance through a D.C. program while the federal government continues to cover a minimum of 72% of the cost.

"The ACA is far from perfect, but Ted’s family is not going to spend one day without health insurance coverage that he would like to deny millions of other Americans not as fortunate as himself."

Another correspondent wrote through the U.S mail: "The Affordable Care Act is a disaster for those of us who are self-employed and purchase healthcare insurance." This reader recalled growing up with the crusading Arkansas Gazette. "That paper did not have a 'lazy little fat snot' writing a column with 'color crayons' about 'Pants on Fire.'"

Separately, a reader objected to our Mostly False rating of a claim by Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, that there are no homeless veterans in Houston.

"I wish I understood the apparent tortured path taken to arrive at these ratings," the reader wrote. "Jeb Bush's statement was not ‘Mostly False,’ it was totally false as established by the background information. Now, if Bush said that there were 'fewer than 25 and there were actually 500' homeless veterans in Houston, one could see a ‘Mostly False’ rating; however, when Bush states emphatically there there are zero homeless veterans and there are 500, that’s ‘Pants on Fire.’"

Keep the flame high, you hear?