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Obamacare replacement draws more fire, said to imperil rural Coloradans

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A new report from an Obamacare-friendly think tank in the nation’s capital concludes that a pending congressional replacement for the nation’s endlessly debated health-care law could leave many Coloradans — especially in rural communities — without health coverage.

A press release today touting the findings by the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C., pointedly notes, “Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet can prevent the bill’s harmful cuts and other changes from ultimately becoming law.”

It’s a reference to the Republican-run U.S. House’s proposed repeal and replacement of the Obama administration’s health care policy. The House GOP adopted the proposal earlier this month, handing the legislation to the U.S. Senate, which though also in Republican hands is expected to reshape the House version considerably.

The think tank’s study breaks down, state by state, the projected impact of the House plan’s rollback of Medicaid coverage for low-income households. Obamacare had dramatically expanded Medicaid — including in economically hard-pressed small towns and agricultural communities — and the study says the repeal of that expansion “…would devastate health care in rural America.”

The Colorado-sized news release zero’s in on the toll in the Centennial State:

The House bill would effectively end the Affordable Care Act’s … Medicaid expansion, under which 87,000 rural Coloradans have gained coverage. Roughly 21 percent of Coloradans who have gained coverage under the expansion live in rural communities. The Medicaid expansion has also expanded access to substance use disorder treatment at a time when many Colorado rural communities have been ravaged by the opioid crisis.

The news release quotes the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative‘s Adam Fox:

“Colorado’s rural communities already face a lot of challenges, and policymakers in Washington shouldn’t make life harder for the people who live there … That means our senators should reject any bill that takes coverage away from people, ends the Medicaid expansion, caps or cuts the program, makes insurance coverage unaffordable, or takes away protections from people with health conditions.”

Ongoing attempts by the congressional GOP and Trump administration to rewrite the nation’s health-care policy have been the focus of a partisan tug-of-war ever since Donald Trump’s upset victory last November. Democrats have been warning of the ill-effects of ending Obamacare, which Republicans have been itching to do now that a Republican is in the White House. Obamacare defenders have been dogging Republican members of Congress on the issue, including in Colorado, and have thronged the officeholders’ meetings with constituents in their home districts.

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