Gardner, Bennet diverge on Senate health care vote

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., called the nation’s health care system “failing,” on Tuesday after voting to allow for Senate debate on a measure that could allow for change.

Gardner’s Colorado colleague, Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, called the coming debate “shameful.”

Gardner joined other GOP senators and Vice President Mike Pence in voting to allow debate on the Senate floor about how to change the eight-year-old Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare by Republicans who opposed it. Democrats on Tuesday voted unanimously against the debate-setting measure.

Bennet and Gardner cast the consequences of each other’s votes in dire terms, with Gardner citing increasing costs and lost coverage.

“While 500,000 Coloradans have had their plans canceled, 145,000 Coloradans were forced to pay a penalty under Obamacare instead of purchasing insurance because their options have become so limited and unaffordable,” Gardner said in a release. “In every health care meeting with Coloradans, we discuss the problems of Obamacare and how the status quo is simply unacceptable.”

Changing existing law will have disastrous consequences, Bennet said in statement.

“It is shameful that Senate Republicans just voted to take up legislation that will affect one-sixth of our economy and harm millions of Americans. Whether Republicans choose to vote for repeal-and-replace or repeal-and-delay, we know both outcomes would be devastating for Colorado families, hospitals and rural communities,” Bennet said. “The American people deserve better than this.”

A so-called “skinny bill” that would eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate penalty, the employer-mandate penalty, and the tax on medical devices was being drafted.

Should a measure pass the Senate, both bills would go to a conference committee, where senators and members of the House would complete a final bill to go again before both houses and ultimately to the president.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., who voted for the House measure, said he welcomed the Senate vote.

“Colorado’s families continue to face high costs and few choices under the law, and doing nothing is not an option,” Tipton said.


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