Election 2018GovernorHot Sheet

Polis comes out strong for universal health care in ad

Author: Joey Bunch - June 1, 2018 - Updated: June 1, 2018

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Jared Polis has a new ad touting his strong support for universal health care. The 2016 election might suggest it’s a lost cause as far as the Colorado electorate goes.

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate and sitting congressman touts Medicare-for-All, a load-bearing pillar of universal health care. A similarly purposed Amendment 69, the so-called ColoradoCare single-payer plan, took a 4-to-1 thumping, just two years ago.

“Health care is a human right,” Polis says in the 15-second spot, explaining his years of support for the universal health care program.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because Sen. Bernie Sanders, a darling of the far left, made it part of his 2016 platform. “Health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege,” he said, before losing the Democratic primary race to Hillary Clinton.

Still, playing to the far-left base, and getting that message out the loudest, could give Polis a lift in the four-way June 26 primary that includes former state Treasurer Carey Kennedy, former state Sen. Mike Johnston and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne.

The website Splinter reported this week that Democrats candidates across the country are getting on the universal health care bandwagon for the midterm primaries.

“Critics will be quick to point out that winning a Democratic primary is not the same thing as winning a general election, which is fair,” wrote Emma Roller, the left-leaning site’s senior political reporter.

Polis’ declaration wasn’t lost on the Republican National Committee, either.

RNC spokeswoamn Christiana Purves said this in a statement:

It’s a mystery why Jared Polis would choose such an out of touch policy to base his campaign advertisements around when Coloradans overwhelmingly voted against single-payer health care in 2016. Polis either missed the memo or would be better off running in California than Colorado.

Polis’ campaign said Thursday he’s the only candidate proposing a Medicare-for-All healthcare program, but his idea sounds a lot like the universal health care program proposed by Lynne, a former Kaiser Permanente executive who has been talking up her support for universal health care for months.

But, hold the phone; Cary Kennedy’s campaign page quotes her as saying:

As Governor, I will lead Colorado to universal health care coverage. The Affordable Care Act gets close – 97.5% of children in Colorado are covered and over 94% of Coloradans have health insurance today. We can be proud of this accomplishment, and I will not let Washington take us backwards.

And Mike Johnston? His plan is more moderate and specific. He would expand affordable health insurance and other programs to “reduce health care costs, increase access — especially access to mental and behavioral health support — and invest in prevention so that we aren’t just treating illness, but actually making people and communities fundamentally healthier.”

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.