To score political points, Republican Rep. Tom Cotton said repeatedly that he’d forego the congressional health insurance plan and sign up on the new health exchanges. It was only fair, he said. But now it appears he’s gotten himself a low-cost grandfathered plan outside the exchange. 

The Pryor campaign has compiled Cotton’s changing stories on insurance purchases in great detail. 



LITTLE ROCK — After Rep. Tom Cotton repeatedly told Arkansans that the health care law required members of Congress to get their insurance under Obamacare — and after he pledged specifically to purchase a plan on the Arkansas exchange — Cotton quietly decided to go back on his word.

The Democrat-Gazette recently ran a story about members of the Arkansas delegation signing up for health care. It revealed that Cotton had purchased a “grandfathered” plan on the open insurance market — one that he knew was scheduled to be cancelled just before the November election.

The facts are very clear: first Cotton promised to join the Arkansas exchange and then he turned around and purchased a grandfathered plan.

Tom Cotton’s Website: December 3rd, 2013
“I now plan to apply for health insurance through the Arkansas exchange and will forgo the unlawful subsidy being offered to Members of Congress.” – Congressman Cotton

Democrat Gazette: February 10th, 2014
“[Cotton] chose a grandfathered private insurance plan that will last through the end of 2014 – when, like all other grandfathered plans, it will be canceled under the Affordable Care Act.”

“Only Congressman Cotton thinks he can get away with spending months repeating a talking point to score political points, then do a cynical about-face and expect to get a pass,” said Pryor for Senate campaign manager Jeff Weaver. “Congressman Cotton has a lot of nerve to try and pull a fast one on the people he hopes to represent. After this cynical self-serving display, folks here in Arkansas are right to be skeptical of Congressman Cotton’s cheap political promises.”




Cotton: “The Law Says That [Members of Congress] All Have To Buy Our Health Insurance Through The Obamacare Exchanges, Which I Think Is Only Fair.” On the Alice Stewart Radio show, Cotton stated: “Alice, right as Congress went into the August recess, while no one was watching, Barack Obama, after being begged by Senate Democrats, granted congressmen, senators, and their staff a special sweetheart exemption from Obamacare. So, the law says that we all have to buy our health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges, which I think is only fair, yet without any kind of legal authority. Barack Obama directed the federal bureaucracy to give unlawful federal subsidy payments from tax payer dollars to congressmen, and senators, and their staffs. I think this is outrageous; I think this is unfair; I think Congress should obviously follow the law as it is written, as it applies to any other American. That’s why we have introduced this legislation to ensure that no congressman, no senator, or staffer gets any special treatment beyond what any American would face under the Obamacare law. This just shows you what a shoddy and ignorant way this law was drafted back in 2010. Congress didn’t even understand how the law impacted them.” [Alice Stewart radio show, 9/12/13]

Cotton: “But What The Law Says Is Clear: That Members Of Congress, And Senators, And Their Staff Have To Go Into The Obamacare Exchanges On January 1.” On the Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd, Cotton stated: “Chuck, what you just described may be what some Democrats wish the law said. But what the law says is clear: that Members of Congress, and senators, and their staff have to go into the Obamacare exchanges on January 1. And there is no person in America on those exchanges who will receive an employer contribution toward their health insurance. And the Obama administration, under pressure from Senate Democrats, carved out a special deal for Congress in August to say that the federal government will continue to contribute 75 percent towards health insurance premiums. That is wrong; it’s not lawful and it’s not right.” [Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd, 10/3/13]

Cotton: “I, As A Member Of Congress, Must Buy Insurance — If I Get Insurance Next Year — On These Exchanges.” At a meeting of the Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus, Cotton stated: “I, as a member of Congress, must buy insurance — if I get insurance next year — on these exchanges. I have repeatedly tried to enroll online and I can never get past repeated error messages, as so many Arkansans and so many people around the country can’t.” [Tom Cotton, Mississippi Delta Caucus Meeting, 10/18/13]

Cotton: “The Law Very Clearly Said That [Members Of Congress] Were Supposed To Receive Our Insurance Through The Obamacare Exchanges.” At a Town Hall meeting in Hot Springs, Cotton stated: “One final point I want to note because I’m sure that some of you have seen it in the news lately is about our health care — the United States Congress. Given all of these problems, it’s not surprising that Congress would like to exempt itself from Obamacare. The law very clearly said that we were supposed to receive our insurance through the Obamacare exchanges.” [Hot Springs Town Hall, 11/23/13]

Cotton: “Obamacare Was Written To Force All Senators, And Congressmen, And Their Staff To Go Into The Exchanges Without Any Employer Contribution.” On the Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd, Cotton stated: “I’m saying the law should simply be upheld as it’s written. Obamacare was written to force all senators, and congressmen, and their staff to go into the exchanges without any employer contribution.” [Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd, 10/3/13]

Cotton: “The Obamacare Law Was Clear. Congress Should Go Into The Exchanges To Experience What It’s Like To Live In The Exchanges.” “In response, Cotton said Congress should be able to go into the exchanges like everyone else. ‘Chuck, the Obamacare law was clear,’ Cotton said. ‘Congress should go into the exchanges to experience what it’s like to live in the exchanges. If the special deal goes forward, Congress will be the only people in America come January one who have an employer contribution to the health insurance. The staffers have access any way. Do they make less than 400 percent of the poverty line? If they make more than that, they have to bear the full cost of healing insurance.’” [Talking Points Memo, 10/3/13]
Cotton: I Was Required By Law To Sign Up For The Obamacare Exchanges. From the transcript of an October 2013 RNC press call: Reince Preibus: And as you all may know, Congressman Cotton is required now to join the Obamacare exchanges and he actually tried to sign up on Tuesday, and I’ll let him take it from here.

Cotton: Thank you, Chairman Priebus. And good morning to everyone. Yes, I was required to sign up by law. And I tried on Tuesday. If I had continued to be trying, I might still be on hold and wouldn’t be able to join you for this call. But, I ended up scrapping it because I didn’t think it was going to work. I think the Chairman hit the nail on the head when he said the law just isn’t ready for prime time. The President has been delaying key portions of it for months now. As the Chairman said, he’s delayed the mandate on big businesses to provide insurance for their employees. He delayed many of (the?) anti-fraud and privacy protection(s?) and the income eligibility provisions of these online exchanges. He’s delayed the exchanges for small businesses. And, as we see continuously over the last few days, the exchanges simply are not ready for prime time. [Tom Cotton, RNC Press Call, 10/04/13]

Cotton: “I Have To Enroll In Obamacare Exchanges, As Do My Staff.” On the Hugh Hewitt radio show, Cotton stated: “You know, I have to enroll in Obamacare exchanges, as do my staff. The administration gave all members of Congress a special sweetheart deal to continue the employer contribution that no other American will get in the exchanges.” [Hugh Hewitt radio show, 10/14/13]

Cotton Said He Was “Someone Who Has To Sign Up In The Exchanges.” On the Hugh Hewitt radio show, Cotton stated: “But, as someone who has to sign up in the exchanges, I thought, you know, I’ll go online and see if I can sign up. And I’ve done it repeatedly for the last two weeks and, every time, all I get is an error screen whenever I try to navigate” [Hugh Hewitt radio show, 10/14/13] (audio)


Cotton: I Now Plan To Apply For Health Insurance Through The Arkansas Exchange And Will Forgo The Unlawful Subsidy Being Offered To Members Of Congress. Rep. Cotton’s website states, “I now plan to apply for health insurance through the Arkansas exchange and will forgo the unlawful subsidy being offered to Members of Congress.” [Rep. Cotton, Cotton blog, 12/3/13]


Cotton Chose A Grandfathered Private Insurance Plan That Would Last Through The End Of 2014. “Cotton, who is in a different demographic of health insurance shoppers, chose a grandfathered private insurance plan that will last through the end of 2014 – when, like all other grandfathered plans, it will be canceled under the Affordable Care Act. The first-term congressman is young, healthy and his insurance rates would have soared if he had signed up for insurance on the exchanges this year, he said. The high rates help subsidize older people and those with pre-existing conditions.” [Democrat-Gazette, 2/10/14]