Gardner’s opposition to the ACA is wrong for Colorado and the nation
For more than a year Sen. Cory Gardner has avoided a town-hall type meeting with his constituents. His preferred method of communication with his constituents is by telephone, but last week they caught up with him live at a meeting in Durango.
The meeting was in conjunction with an inspection of the Gold King Mine by public officials. Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sens. Michael Bennet and Gardner and Rep. Scott Tipton were all on the panel. The program called for them to take questions for five minutes. By common consent, the question and answer period was extended. Bennet, Gardner and Tipton took questions for more than an hour.
Gardner was probably anticipating a less-than-hearty welcome in Durango last week when he decided to participate in the forum on the Gold King Mine. It is doubtful, however, that he anticipated the passion his presence would arouse when his constituents confronted him with their questions on health care.
Since Gardner had not held a pubic event for more than a year, constituents flocked to Durango, hoping their name might be drawn from the hat that would gain admission to the meeting hall.
Based on descriptions from a variety of sources, it appears that Bennet, Hickenlooper and Tipton were largely bystanders as the crowd hammered Gardner with questions. “... Senator Cory Gardner was shouted at and derided,” The Denver Post reported. But the questions were not about the Gold King Mine. Almost exclusively, the constituent questions were about health care.
Many in the crowd Gardner faced on Friday said they feared losing their health care under the Republican plan.
In response to a question as to why Gardner voted for the Republican health-care bill when the vast majority of his constituents opposed it, Gardner explained, “Seven years ago when I ran for Congress, I said that I would vote to repeal and replace Obamacare, and I’m going to continue to live up to the promise that I made. The reason is: The Affordable Care Act isn’t working.”
Unfortunately, Gardner, like other Republicans, has no real plan for a replacement, so the repeal and replace plan simply devolves into repeal without a replacement.
Seven years ago Gardner might have attracted more support for his rejection of Obamacare. But in 2017, according to a CBS story, “The crowd got very boisterous at that answer from Gardner.”
The Affordable Care Act has lowered the rate of uninsured people in Colorado to historic levels and provided essential health-care benefits to millions of Americans.
“The voters of Colorado do not support the repeal of Obamacare,” said ProgressNow Colorado Executive Director Ian Silverii. “Poll after poll shows that the Affordable Care Act is more popular than ever, even as Republicans continue attempting to destroy it.”
So far, the Republicans have been frustrated in their attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare because they are unable to produce enough votes on a single repeal plan to pass the Senate without Democratic support. Gardner has voted for each iteration of the GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, including repeal now and replace later.
According to The Denver Post, the Republican bill would cut the federal deficit by an estimated $321 billion over the next decade, but cause 22 million more Americans to go without health insurance than if the ACA remained in place. Among those at risk of losing their insurance are 425,000 Coloradans covered by Medicaid because of Obamacare, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Colorado Democratic Party Chair Morgan Carroll said in a statement, “The fact that Sen. Gardner refuses to engage with his constituents before voting to take away their health care just shows a fundamental lack of respect for the people he’s supposed to be representing.”
Silverii announced July 25, “Today, Republicans in Washington have taken the first step to hurt millions of their fellow Americans in the name of tax breaks for the wealthy. The bill Sen. Cory Gardner voted for today will undo the gains our state has made in covering the uninsured and endanger health services in covering the uninsured, and endanger health services in rural communities like the small town Gardner hails from.”
As the dubious claims Gardner and others have made about the Affordable Care Act give way to a more realistic view of its benefits, Colorado voters will continue to reject the repeal of the ACA proposed by Republicans in favor of the millions of Americans and thousands of Coloradans who will benefit from the Affordable Care Act.