Tennessee state Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R) has been an ardent opponent of government health care benefits, but a recent investigation into his personal health insurance coverage has shown his hostility toward Obamacare is conditional.
The senator confessed to The Tennessean on Monday that he had added his son to his health care plan -- a benefit made possible by the Affordable Care Act, which forces employer-sponsored plans to cover workers' children up to the age of 26.
Gardenhire, however, has twice voted to keep the state from using federal health laws to provide coverage to poor residents. He also initially denied The Tennessean's accusation and hung up on the reporter, only later calling back to "eat crow" after he realized he was wrong. From the paper's report:
But he called The Tennessean reporter back Monday morning to correct himself. He said he asked Connie Ridley, the director of legislative administration, if his son had ever been on the plan.
"She said 'When you signed up, you signed up for the family and you put him down,' " Gardenhire said. "So I'm here to eat crow with you -- if you've ever had to eat crow with someone. I'm having to call up and say I was wrong. You were right."
His son, Andrew Gardenhire who is now 27, was on the plan in 2012 and 2013. Gardenhire's wife was also on the plan until she qualified for Medicare.
Gardenhire didn't immediately return a request for additional comment from The Huffington Post.
This isn’t the first time the senator has denied receiving the state health insurance benefits he is so fervently against for his constituents. Gardenhire denied having any coverage on the Tennessee state plan in February during an exchange with state Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D). This exchange is what led The Tennessean to request records explaining the number of lawmakers enrolled in state health insurance programs and how much of the bill taxpayers are footing.
It appears the same heated discussion provoked an open records request by the Associated Press, which revealed Gardenhire’s enrollment after he voted to strike down Insure Tennessee in February -- a bill proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam (R) that would expand health coverage to 280,000 of Tennessee's low-income residents via the state government health plan.
Perhaps Gardenhire’s most infamous denial of his coverage came last month when he called a constituent an “asshole” for asking if he’d be willing to give up his state benefits.
But Gardenhire assured The Tennessean that his son, Andrew, never used the state health plan.
"In January 2014, I canceled all the family stuff and just had me on there," he said. "I canceled that on Feb. 9 of this year. I signed all the paperwork and canceled that."
Gardenhire isn't the only Obamacare opponent to take advantage of its benefits. Some Republicans in Congress who have pushed to repeal the law have also used it to provide health care for their adult children.
Correction: This article originally misidentified Haslam's party affiliation.
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