Muftic: Sen. Gardner owes thanks to Sen. McCain
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner owes Sen. John McCain thanks for McCain’s deciding vote against the Senate “skinny” bill to repeal/replace Obamacare.
A Magellan poll of Colorado voters showed 60 percent wanted Obamacare repaired, not repealed or replaced. By the time of Gardner’s re-election campaign in 2020, it is now more likely that Colorado voters will have forgotten how badly the GOP bill would have hurt Colorado citizens. The full impact on Colorado of the bills he supported would have been felt in the middle of his re-election campaign, but by 2020 the issue will have been relegated to memories of what could have happened.
Voters may forget that not only did he vote in favor of all GOP Senate repeal/replace bills, he was a leader in designing the GOP’s preferred version of repeal/replace legislation. Gardner was one of the committee of GOP senators who crafted that original version of the bill. The CBO score on that bill would have resulted in 22 million losing access to affordable health insurance among other hurtful impacts.
Gardner will be facing re-election in 2020 in a state that turned blue in 2016 with Hillary Clinton winning the state with a 5 percent plus margin. Had the Senate voted in favor of the parliamentary ruse to send their “skinny” legislation to a conference committee, no one knows what would have come out of negotiations with the House version, but it would not have been skinny since the GOP’s Senate original version differed little from the House version. Even the skinny bill itself would have left 16 million without insurance and cause a 20 percent increase in premiums, per the Senate Budget Office score and Gardner voted for that, too.
Here is how Colorado would have been hurt if Gardner had had his preferred way. Over 400,000 in Colorado alone could have lost their health insurance over the next ten years . Rural hospitals and urban charity hospitals would have lost many paying customers, causing some to close. Medicaid expansion under Obamacare could have been eliminated. Colorado could have voted to restore the loss of Medicaid expansion at the cost to taxpayers of $15 billion over 10 years.
Twenty-two percent of Colorado adults with pre-existing conditions could have been dumped into a “high risk” pool in which the premiums could have to be raised to the point of being unaffordable. Seniors between 50 and 65 could have seen premiums increase by $2,000 a year. Women could be charged more than men again for coverage of their special services, from prenatal to maternity care, cancer screenings, mammograms, birth control pills, assuming those benefits would even be offered. However all guarantees of benefit inclusions were removed in both House and Senate versions. GOP versions removed medicaid funded coverage of 60 percent of elderly in nursing homes.
If Gardner is banking on many voters forgetting how much he did not care about their health insurance, count on his opponents to try to remind them. Gardner’s worst nightmare might be if Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, is his opponent. Hickenlooper will be the most effective and credible reminder of Gardner’s votes, since Hickenlooper led the bipartisan committee of governors to urge a no vote on the GOP dominated Senate’s repeal/replace attempts.
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