Over the weekend, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner again took credit for a health-insurance cost-saving program that, if Gardner had his way, would not exist.
The program, funded via state innovation waivers in Obamacare, allows states to essentially provide insurance for insurance companies, covering extremely costly claims and allowing the companies to lower insurance rates on the individual market in Colorado by an average of about 18 percent.
During a speech at Saturday’s meeting near Grand Junction of Club 20 , a group of rural government and business entities, Gardner said he made sure Trump officials approved Colorado’s request for the reinsurance program, after state officials asked for it as part of a new state law.
“I was glad that it was issued and grateful to be a part of that bipartisan work to get that waiver accomplished,” said Gardner during a speech at the event.
But Gardner has voted to kill the Affordable Care Act multiple times, even giving a GOP repeal bill the thumbs up when fellow Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona famously gave a bill to end Obamacare the thumbs down, and Gardner has said repeatedly that the law is a “disaster.”
Reporters have noted the inconsistency of Gardner’s taking credit for a waiver program that wouldn’t exist if Gardner had succeeded in killing the federal health care law.
In a 9News segment in July, news anchor Kyle Clark said that a spokesperson for Gardner said he was approached by Polis to talk to the Trump Administration to help ensure the program’s approval.
But, as Clark put it, “Senator Gardner wants to demolish the house, but today he’s claiming credit for helping the homeowners put on an addition.”
Democrats have called out Gardner both for trying to kill Obamacare and for sitting on the sidelines while they pushed the Obamacare waiver through the Legislature this year.
“Zero calls from Sen. Gardner’s office and zero support from him over the years we’ve been working on this,” tweeted state Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Vail), in July when Gardner first took credit for expected premium reductions from the Obamacare waiver program. “Instead, he’s been in D.C. trying to repeal Obamacare — the very foundation of the reinsurance to begin with. But, sure, take credit…”
Without federal Obamacare dollars, the re-insurance program, whose costs are somewhat uncertain, would not exist in Colorado.
The high cost of health insurance was a major concern of voters in the last election, which turned out to be a blue wave for Democrats in Colorado.
And Gardner is widely believed to be vulnerable on the issue next year, when he is up for re-election, having led the charge to kill Obamacare–without having a plan to replace the national health care law or even segments of it, like its protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Gardner didn’t return a call seeking to know if he would again vote to kill Obamacare if it means also ending the reinsurance program in Colorado and losing the savings on health insurance.
Gardner doesn’t normally cite healthcare as an issue that will help him retain his seat, preferring instead to point to regulations and the economy.
“I’m confident, going into Colorado — which is always a tough election, and I don’t think I ever want to downplay that — but I’m confident that we can take our record of accomplishments and solutions across the state of Colorado and win. Because we have fought hard. Whether it’s the BLM headquarters in Grand Junction, or Space Command in Colorado Springs, a growing economy, jobs being created, less regulations on the backs of businesses, this is good for the state and the country,” Gardner told KHOW’s Ross Kaminsky this morning when asked about his re-election next year.
Also at the Club 20 meeting, Gardner defended a decision to house the Bureau of Land Management in a building whose tenants include oil and gas companies.