Colorado’s Hickenlooper, Bennet, Lynne to hold private talk on secret Republican health care plan

Author: Joey Bunch - June 16, 2017 - Updated: June 16, 2017

health care HickenlooperColorado Gov. John Hickenlooper gave his State of the State address to a Colorado crowd at the Antlers Hotel on Wednesday, February 8, 2017. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett/The Colorado Springs Gazette)

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne will hold a private meeting Friday to talk about the Republican health care plan, which itself is shrouded in secrecy awaiting an unveiling and a vote in the Senate.

Democratic activists across the country, including in Denver, have staged marches and publicity around the potential for people losing insurance they gained under Obamacare and the expansion of Medicaid.

Colorado’s top three Democrats will meet with reporters in Pueblo after talking about what the changes might mean with healthcare leaders, advocates and patients at Pueblo Community Health Center. The governor’s office cited patient privacy at the center as a reason to keep out reporters and do a press conference outside afterward.

“The discussion will center on ideas to improve the health care system and the potential effects of the proposed law in the State of Colorado,” the governor’s office said in an advisory.

Jakob Rodgers of the Colorado Springs Gazette will pull double duty and report their remarks and his observations for Colorado Politics as soon after as possible.

For Colorado Politic’s online subscribers, who also receive the print edition of The Statesman this week, our Peter Marcus examines the toll  health care funding takes in Hugo, a town of 600 on the Eastern Plains that has one thing going for it, a local hospital. Check it out.

Colorado Politics’ Ernest Luning took close measure of Bennet’s thoughts on the Republican plan at a town hall meeting in Frisco last Friday:

“If you set out to design a bill less responsive to the criticisms I’ve heard of Obamacare — the critics, to say nothing of the people who have supported it — you couldn’t design a bill less responsive than the House bill,” he said. “It would be impossible.”

As members of the crowd chuckled, Bennet continued. “I’ve never heard people say, ‘Could you please give a $400 billion tax cut to the richest Americans? Very seldom have I heard somebody say, ‘It’d be a good idea to cut Medicaid by a quarter,’ which is what that bill does — that’s before an $800 billion cut to Medicaid that they haven’t just proposed, they’ve passed.”

Then, in a line that prompted a quick smile from Bennet before he delivered it — he knew it would draw some laughter, which it did — Bennet said, his voice rising, “I join the Freedom Caucus in their critique of the bill the House passed, because it really is just Obamacare Lite.”

Rather than rebuild the health care system, as Bennet said Republicans have promised for years — “after all this rhetoric about how Obamacare is destroying capitalism as we know it,” he said with a shake of his head — all the legislation does is provide a massive tax cut for wealthy Americans and strip a few key provisions from the Affordable Care Act, he maintained. “You don’t have to cover preexisting conditions, but being a woman is a preexisting condition,” he said, trailing off.

There are, he continued, “completely reasonable critiques of Obamacare,” such as how should the system encourage competition in rural Colorado. “But what the Senate is doing is trying to get 51 votes, not solve problems.” He added, “The level of economic insecurity that exists in this county because of our screwed up health care system shouldn’t be tolerable in the United States of America.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.