Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner slams ‘knee-jerk’ opposition to Senate GOP’s health care bill
Author: Ernest Luning - June 22, 2017 - Updated: June 23, 2017
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, one of 13 Republicans tasked with drafting Senate legislation to overhaul the nation’s health care system, said Thursday morning he was seeing the bill for the first time and cautioned critics against jumping to conclusions before reviewing it.
“This is the first I’ve viewed the legislation so I am beginning to carefully review it as we continue to look at ways to rescue Colorado from the continued negative impacts of the Affordable Care Act on our healthcare system,” Gardner said in a statement.
“It’s frustrating that instead of actually reviewing the legislative text, some have decided to immediately oppose the bill before it was even introduced. This deserves serious debate, not knee-jerk reaction.”
Senate Republicans unveiled a 142-page draft of the bill Thursday after assembling it behind closed doors for more than a month. GOP leaders say they plan to bring the legislation to a vote by next week and expect an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office by early next week.
The draft is the Senate’s version of a bill passed on May 4 by House Republicans, legislation variously cheered and derided as “mean” by President Donald Trump, who has said that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, is a top priority of his new administration.
Gardner was unavailable Thursday morning to discuss his initial reaction to the bill, a spokesman told Colorado Politics.
The Yuma Republican, however, told 7News reporter Blair Miller on Wednesday that he wouldn’t support the legislation if he determined it was “bad policy” after reading it.
Gardner added that he would oppose the bill “if it doesn’t work to reduce the cost of insurance; if it doesn’t create market stability; if it doesn’t create a sustainable path for Medicaid, that’s not going to be something that I can support.”
Along with fellow U.S. Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — all states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare — Gardner called Medicaid the “core of the health care safety net for individuals across the country.”
“We are concerned that any poorly implemented or poorly timed change in the current funding structure in Medicaid could result in a reduction in access to life-saving health care services,” the senators wrote. “While we support efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and make structural reforms to the Medicaid program, we are concerned that the February 10th draft proposal from the House of Representatives does not provide stability and certainty for individuals and families in Medicaid expansion programs or the necessary flexibility for states.”
The draft of the Senate bill released Thursday included steep cuts to Medicaid, although they would be phased in and calculated differently than in the House version.
With a 52-48 margin in the Senate, Republicans can afford just two defections and still be able to pass the bill with a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence.