Printed Letters: July 13, 2017

Speak up regarding health care reform

Please make your voices heard. The pending health care reform legislation in the Senate (Better Care Reconciliation Act) will profoundly affect Coloradoans with disabilities. The salient points for Senators Bennett, Gardner, and the other 98 Senate Republicans are listed below:

• Vote no on the BCRA or any bill that caps or cuts Medicaid or cuts health care and long-term care for people with disabilities.

• Make the Senate BCRA process transparent. With so many people affected, we need hearings and a bipartisan solution!

• In Colorado, more than 60 percent of Medicaid recipients are people with disabilities, elders or children according to the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

• The American Health Care Act would decimate Medicaid – it would lead to $834 billion in cuts over the next decade.

• According to the non-partisan Colorado Health Institute, this translates to a $14 billion cut in our state revenue, with a $340 million cut during the first year.

• Colorado’s TABOR amendment makes raising revenue to cover cuts untenable. In response, Colorado’s General Assembly will have no choice but to reduce services, cut optional services, restrict eligibility, and increase waiting lists.

• Colorado citizens with disabilities will be disproportionally harmed. We make up about 7 percent of Medicaid participants but account for 27 percent the cost.

• Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) are at risk because they are optional and could be completely eliminated. HCBS provides assistance with eating, bathing, and dressing, as well as assistance with employment and community access.

• There is no “acceptable” cap on Medicaid: the goal of any cap is simply to cut Medicaid spending, harming people with disabilities.

• Caps do not give states more flexibility. They just give states less money, decimating necessary services for people with disabilities.

• Capping Medicaid for people with disabilities should not be part of the conversation about how to repeal and replace the ACA. This would significantly change the bi-partisan funding formula in place since 1965, when the Medicaid program began.

One-sixth of the American economy is tied to health care. Getting it right is more important to the American public than getting it done quickly.

LINDA TAYLOR
Executive Director
Center for Independence
Grand Junction

Watching recent news more like taking in a NASCAR race

Several weeks ago we had Mika and Joe insulting the president because he insulted them because they insulted him. This week we have the news media bashing the president for bashing them for bashing him.

Do you ever get the feeling we are all watching a never-ending NASCAR race instead of real news?

L.W. HUNLEY
Grand Junction

Sen. Gardner’s lack of 
response is disappointing

I am disappointed in Sen. Gardner’s response to my information requests. In February, I emailed him: “What experience does Scott Pruitt possess that convinced you that he is a good choice to lead the EPA?” I received back a form letter that stated: “Attorney General Scott Pruitt demonstrated that he understands the importance of protecting the environment.” My request for examples of Mr. Pruitt standing up for the environment as Attorney General of Oklahoma resulted in another copy of the same letter.

After leaving multiple messages at Sen. Gardner’s D.C. and Grand Junction offices, I spoke with someone in the Denver office who committed to get back to me with examples. After multiple follow-up messages, I spoke again with the Denver staffer. He said he was unsuccessful getting a reply from the D.C. office. I summarized this experience for my Denver contact, stating I planned to share it in newspapers if I received no response. That afternoon, May 18, I received a call from the D.C. office with the following examples, all from between Mr. Pruitt’s nomination and confirmation:

• Assured he would reverse the EPA decision to not compensate those harmed by the Gold King Mine spill

• Committed to clean up old mine sites

• Committed to continue the cleanup of superfund sites

• Wrote an op-ed on the role of technology in improved air quality

I emailed the individual to ensure I understood his examples, to request a link to the op-ed, and to ask for examples from before Pruitt’s nomination. I received no response.

So, what are my conclusions? First, I conclude there are no examples that justified Scott Pruitt’s nomination as EPA Administrator.  Secondly, I conclude that I am not important enough for a thoughtful reply from Sen. Gardner. I have been patient, but waiting over five months for a response is ridiculous and insulting.

RONALD WACKOWSKI
Steamboat Springs


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