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JOSH MARSHALLSEPTEMBER 15, 2014, 12:55 PM EDT
Okay, this is kind of fascinating. You can see that we have this story about about Cruz-backed Tea Party candidate Marilinda Garcia, running for a seat in Congess up in New Hampshire. She was being interviewed last week and stumbled into this question of just what kind of insurance she had since she's such a big critic of Obamacare. She very oddly ducked and bobbed and refused to answer the question, specifically whether she herself had an Obamacare plan. Her campaign followed up and clarified that she did have health care coverage but not an Obamacare plan. But some key elements of the story did not - and still do not - seem to add up.
As I said, the campaign followed up and said they she definitely didn't have an Obamacare plan. Then they gave an interview with the Manchester Union Leader in which both Garcia and her campaign manager Tom Szold appear to have been interviewed and Szold did most of the talking. They repeated the point they she does not have an Obamacare plan. And they refused to provide details of her coverage. But what they did share ... well, here's what they said.
Szold said her plan covers catastrophic care on a short-term basis while she runs for Congress. Should she win the election, she presumably would be eligible for health care through Congress.
He said Garcia decided not to enroll in an ACA exchange, even though she would have been eligible.
But this seems odd because that sort of catastrophic care plan is the kind that's no longer allowed under Obamacare. There are some exceptions. You can be grandfathered in if you'd had the plan for a long time. You can also purchase a sort of plan that most people don't think actually counts as health care coverage and that doesn't satisfy the Obamacare mandate We detailed how these plans can work in this article from about a year ago. So presumably, Garcia falls into one of these categories.
This seems to be confirmed by what a Garcia campaign official told us a few moments ago ...
"I believe she is doing a private, non-compliant plan…Her thing is I don't believe the government recognizes her plan but that doesn't mean it's not a legitimate healthcare plan. It's worth noting that if she were to win [her race] she would be eligible for a congressional healthcare plan."
This would make sense since the campaign suggested in the Union Leader interview that Garcia had purchased her plan for her time campaigning. She's currently in the state legislature. But New Hampshire has a part-time legislature and does not appear to provide health care coverage. And Garcia works mainly as a freelance Harp instructor. Again from the Union Leader piece ...
She said she lives at the School Street home of her parents, David and Santa Garcia, along with her sister, Bianca, who also serves in the State House.
She has worked, mostly on a part-time basis, teaching the harp to students at a school in Massachusetts as well as Philips Exeter Academy in Exeter and St. Paul's School in Concord. She also has volunteered as a court-appointed special advocate for neglected or abused children in the court system.
Her last full-time job was as a developer of curriculum and business for a university in northern Italy.
But, while serving in the Legislature over the last several years, she has devoted herself to working full-time - though for a $100 a year stipend - while the Legislature is in session, then working in the private sector, primarily as a harp instructor, when not in session.
"But right now, I'm campaigning full-time," she said.
When we read all this we were a bit confused. It sounds like Garcia hasn't had employer-based health insurance for a very long time or perhaps ever. So we don't know if she was uninsured before she bought the catastrophic care plan for her congressional campaign or whether her plan is one of the non-plans noted in the article above.
It's worth noting that for a Tea Party candidate it would likely be a badge of honor to defy Obamacare, even at the price of getting worse coverage, just out of principle. But we're still trying to get to the bottom of just what kind of plan she has.