Michael Bennet, Cory Gardner cheer Senate health care bill delay, but for different reasons

Michael Bennet Cory Gardner

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, and Cory Gardner, a Republican (Colorado Statesman archive)

Colorado’s two U.S. senators, Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, both said Tuesday they were glad Senate Republicans decided to delay a vote on legislation meant to overhaul the health care system, although it was for different reasons. Bennet, a Democrat, said it was chance for a fresh start, while Gardner, a Republican, called it an opportunity to take more time to “rescue Americans” from the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Bennet, a persistent critic of GOP efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare — he’s blasted both the procedures and the draft legislation — said in a statement that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s announcement that he was postponing a vote on the bill was welcome news.

“The more Americans learn about this bill, the more appalled they become,” Bennet said. “Continuing a partisan process to secure more votes isn’t going to fix this fundamentally flawed bill. We should start over and work together to improve the Affordable Care Act and reform our health care system.”

McConnell said earlier in the day that Senate leadership was postponing consideration of the bill dubbed the Better Care Reconciliation Act until after a scheduled July 4 recess when it became clear he didn’t have enough Republican votes to get past procedural motions to move ahead.

Gardner, one of 13 Senate Republicans on a working group tasked with drafting the legislation, used the occasion to lay into Obamacare and sounded a note of optimism that the bill can be salvaged, according to a spokesman.

“The Affordable Care Act is imploding, and Sen. Gardner has made clear that we must bring relief to Coloradans who are negatively impacted by it,” Gardner’s press secretary, Casey Contras, told Colorado Politics. “The Senate needs to work together to produce a bill that will rescue Americans from the Affordable Care Act, and taking more time to get it right for the people of Colorado is a good decision.”

A day earlier, Bennet sounded the alarm over a budget analysis released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that showed the proposed legislation would lead to 22 million fewer people having insurance, along with millions facing higher out-of-pocket costs.

“Today’s CBO score only confirms how disastrous the Republican health care bill would be for Coloradans,” Bennet said in a statement on Monday. “It would hurt children on Medicaid, those seeking treatment for opioid addiction, seniors in nursing homes, and so many more Americans who would be forced to pay more for lower quality care. If this score is not enough to dissuade Republican senators from opposing the bill, then the voices of Coloradans and the 22 million Americans who stand to lose their coverage should be.”

Gardner’s spokesman said Monday that the senator was considering the CBO analysis and would review the legislation while continuing discussions about it.

“Sen. Gardner is continuing to speak with constituents, healthcare professionals and his colleagues about the legislation to fix our broken healthcare system, and the CBO report that was just released is part of the discussion,” a Gardner spokesman said. “There are going to be modifications made to the draft legislation introduced last week, and the senator will also be reviewing these to see how they would impact any final bill that would be voted on in the near future.”

— Ernest.Luning@coloradopolitics.com

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