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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

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Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., joined by, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., joined by, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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.”

In early March, as details of the House legislation began to emerge, Gardner joined three Republican senators writing a letter to McConnell to express reservations over potential cuts to Medicaid.

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.

— Ernest.Luning@coloradopolitics.com

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. Since 2009, he has been the senior political reporter and occasional editor for The Colorado Statesman.


17 comments

  • Shelly Wells

    June 22, 2017 at 6:37 pm

    Deep cuts to Medicaid while giving tax breaks to billionaires deserves a large reaction! Hospitals oppose this bill. Planned Parenthood will receive no funding, although it provides affordable healthcare to women who need it most!
    A message for Cory Gardner: (since contacting his office is pointless)
    Start listening to your constituents, Cory! You need to be loyal and protect us, not Donald Trump who you have supported, lock-step since his election! You also could have spoken out strongly to allow bipartisan talks and less secrecy behind this bill. I know you said you were worried about speaking out because you are a junior senator. Kamala Harris is also,a junior senator, and she has the nerve to speak up. Resign from this role….you aren’t serving the purpose of the job, anyway!

    Reply

    • M Croswell

      June 23, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      Well said Shelly! Cory Gardner is out of touch with Coloradoans. I remember when he first ran for office, he sent out a poll asking us what were the top 12 concerns – the Environment wasn’t even on the list!

      Reply

  • Cardine Arndt

    June 22, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Cory, please listen to your people here in Colorado. The ACA needs some thorough thinking no some improvement. It just doesn’t seem to me that you are vindictive and petty … to repeal. Please slow down, think it through, listen to all sides, take NO BRIBE MONEY, and do the best you can for us. If you do, perhaps we’ll vote for you again. If you take money again for your vote, we will not vote for your continuation, but fight like hell to get you out.. I’d much rather love you and help than fight you.
    Thank you!

    Reply

  • Cynthia Katsarelis

    June 22, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Not covering pre-existing conditions (apparently that’s left to the states!), not covering women’s healthcare, including maternity care, cutting Medicaid further than the House bill? This throws people out of access to decent healthcare and people will again use Emergency Rooms for their only healthcare option. And those of us with insurance will end up paying for it. This does NOTHING to address cost.

    This is another transfer of wealth to the rich, and Americans are going to die. Sadly, the most vulnerable, vote Republican. One can get better health care in Costa Rica and 36 other countries… People are going to die because of the bizarre ideology of the Koch Brothers and greed.

    Reply

  • Roger Lynn

    June 23, 2017 at 6:02 am

    Knee jerk hell. This is nothing but a YUGE tax cut to Gardner’s donors while it leaves MILLIONS of Americans with no health care, or health care that will bankrupt them and give them fewer services and less coverage. Senator Gardner maybe it is time you start representing the people of Colorado and stop bending over for Master McConnell and your corporate puppetmasters.

    Reply

  • Catherine Grimes

    June 23, 2017 at 7:19 am

    This bill does nothing to improve every American’s access to healthcare. It hurts your neighbors in Yuma. This is not the way to give tax breaks. Tax breaks don’t need to go to the uber rich. You can do better to fix the healthcare insurance system and ensure that every American has the access to health care. A healthy society is a productive society. This plan does not move forward, only backwards.

    Reply

  • Jerry Stubben

    June 23, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Colorado State and Local governments will be saddled with healthcare costs and rural hospitals will close. The Rich are the only ones that benefit from this.

    Reply

  • Kathy Partridge

    June 23, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Sen Gardner, one didn’t have to read too far into the bill to see all the harm it would do to Colorado families like me. Medicaid expansion allowed a family member to get quality mental health care and recover! Without it, we could anticipate the worst to happen. You are the Jerk and a Knee that you bend to your rich donors through the bill’s tax breaks for billionaires. Time for you to serve Colorado, Cory, or we will vote you out.

    Reply

  • Paula Nelson

    June 23, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Gardner’s going to be looking at a knee jerk reaction in 2018….

    Reply

  • Lynn Bindel

    June 23, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Serious debate? Yes indeed! Please take time for experts to respond, constituents to meet with their senators & give input, new ideas to be formulated, amendments to be considered….you know the legislative process. That is your job Senator Gardner, and therefore you should vote no until that process can actually happen.

    Reply

  • cedonnelly

    June 23, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    How about the “knee jerk” manner in which you handled health care — well at least if you strained your knee you got a $150K kick back. Do what is right for the people instead of just being a party talking head. Show you give a damn about kids other than your own that have health care, about the disabled, women and seniors who don’t make what you make, or we may all be happy to make sure you find yourself trying to buy your health insurance on the individual market after 2018 and see how you like it.

    Reply

  • Roy Cohen

    June 24, 2017 at 7:03 am

    Sen. Gardner, if your mind is still open I sincerely hope that you will vote against this bill. I am a member of AARP and that organization which is non political, has read the legislation and is against it. Please vote against this bill.

    Reply

  • Anne Powell

    June 24, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    I have read it – it is a tax break for the rich and a death sentence for the poor, people with pre-existing conditions and horrible for women. I do not see how anyone could support this bill. It will make insurance sky rocket for Senoirs. Do you remember the “Death Panels” the GOP accused Dems of over the ACA – well, this bill really does create DEATH PANELS – You can’t pay – you DIE.

    Reply

  • Elaine Horne

    June 25, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Senator, Please repeal every bit of obama care, and rewrite the whole thing!! For the sake of the country as a whole!!!

    Reply

  • Jerry Coleman

    June 26, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    He was 1 of 13 senators tasked with drafting the bill, and he just saw it for the 1st time on Thursday??? What was his role? Coffee boy?

    Reply

  • Eloy Morlock

    July 29, 2017 at 4:15 am

    Unfortunately, we are stuck with Cory the Caver until 2020. 🙁

    Reply

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