Friday, July 28, 2017

Sen.Cory Gardner owes Sen. John McCain thanks for his vote against GOP health bill

A version of this appeared in all editions of the Sky Hi News, August 2, 2017

Colorado Senator Cory Gardner owes Sen. John McCain  thanks for McCain’s  deciding vote against the Senate “skinny” bill to repeal/replace Obamacare. A Magellan poll of Colorado voters showed 60% wanted Obamacare repaired, not repealed or replaced.  By the time of Gardner’s re-election  campaign in 2020,  it  is now more likely that Colorado voters will  have forgotten  how badly the GOP bill would have hurt Colorado citizens. The full impact on Colorado of the bills he supported would have been felt in the middle of his re-election campaign, but by 2020 the issue will have been relegated to memories of what could have happened.

Voters may forget that not only did he vote in favor of all GOP Senate repeal/replace bills, he was a leader in designing the GOP’s preferred version of repeal/replace legislation. Gardner was one of the committee of GOP senators who crafted that  original version of the bill. The CBO score on that bill  would have resulted in 22 million losing  access to affordable health insurance among other hurtful impacts.  

Gardner will be facing re-election in 2020 in  a state that turned blue in 2016 with Hillary Clinton winning the state with a 5%  plus margin. Had the Senate voted in favor of the parliamentary ruse  to send their “skinny” legislation to a conference committee, no one knows what would have come out of negotiations with the House version, but it would not have been skinny  since the GOP’s Senate original version differed little from the House version. Even the skinny bill  itself would have left 16 million without insurance and cause a 20% increase in premiums, per the Senate Budget Office score and Gardner voted for that, too.

Here is how Colorado would have been hurt if Gardner had had his preferred way. Over  400,000 in Colorado alone could have lost  their health insurance over the next ten years . Rural hospitals and urban charity hospitals would  have lost many paying customers, causing some to close. Medicaid expansion under Obamacare could have been eliminated.    Colorado  could  have voted to restore the loss of Medicaid expansion  at the cost to taxpayers of $15 billion over ten years.

22% of Colorado adults  with  pre-existing conditions could have been dumped into a “high risk” pool in which the premiums could have to be raised to the point of being unaffordable . Seniors between 50 and 65 could have seen premiums increase by $2 thousand a year. Women could be charged more than men again for  coverage of their special services, from prenatal to maternity care, cancer screenings, mammograms, birth control pills,  assuming those benefits would even  be offered . However. all guarantees  of benefit inclusions were removed in both House and Senate versions. GOP versions removed medicaid funded coverage of 60% of elderly in nursing homes.

If Gardner is banking on  many voters forgetting how much he did not care  about their health insurance, count on his opponents to try to remind them.  Gardner’s worst nightmare might be if Colorado governor John Hickenlooper (D) is his  opponent.  Hickenlooper  will be the most effective and credible  reminder  of Gardner’s votes, since Hickenlooper led the bipartisan committee of governors to  urge a no vote on the GOP dominated  Senate’s repeal/replace attempts. 60% in Colorado in April wanted Obamacare to be fixed, not repealed

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