Days before the November Election Day, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) refused to say whether she would support dismantling Obamacare, saying she would wait and “see what happens when I get to Congress.”
Nine months later and six months into her first congressional term, Boebert has yet to talk about Obamacare or viable alternatives for health-care reform.
Boebert has established a predictable pattern in her public messaging on Obamacare by which she attacks the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and shies away from stating her policy recommendations, as seen during her successful campaign to topple a four-term incumbent, in stumping during the general campaign.
But last Sunday, during a Fourth of July appearance in Grand Junction, Boebert was asked by the Colorado Times Recorder’s Sharon Sullivan whether she favors repealing the ACA. Half of her predictable, patterned response was missing. While she remained consistent in refusing to offer any policy statement, this time she begged off the opportunity to attack the ACA.
She responded, “Who are you with?” before turning away and refusing to answer, saying, “I have to talk to these people.”
Following last month’s ruling by the United States Supreme Court blocking another in a long series of front-line conservative attacks on the ACA, and with public polling data demonstrating significant support for the ACA, could Boebert be reformulating her talking points and shifting away from her paradigm of opposition and evasion?
When political upstart Boebert announced her candidacy to challenge another Republican for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional seat, she attacked her Trump-endorsed primary opponent Rep. Scott Tipton for not repealing Obamacare, and she pivoted away from an opportunity to discuss her policy positions.
“[Tipton] went in with some promises: to abolish Obamacare, fire Nancy Pelosi, and lower our national debt,” Boebert told KUSA’s Kyle Clark, “So, I’ll let his record speak for itself. … There’s going to be a lot of time for policies. And right now, I would just love– I think we’re just making this too difficult. This is simple and we are announcing our campaign. We just started! We’ll have a lot of time to talk about policy and everything that is going on in America and in Colorado, and how I’m going to represent everybody. …. I’m tired of politicians shying away from issues and fights that need to be won. I intend to win them.”
Weeks later, Boebert told KDNK news that she “would fight to repeal the Affordable Care Act and allow Coloradans to shop for health insurance across state lines, but for the most part, she says that discussion of policy can wait.”
“I’m just getting started. We are going to have a lot of time to talk about policy and right now I think it’s most important that people learn who I am. … And policy will follow,” she said.
By midsummer 2020, Boebert had defeated Tipton to become the Republican nominee. In her general election campaign, Boebert continued to advocate for the repeal of the ACA while her opponent, Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush, championed building on the strengths of Obamacare in a district with the highest premium rates and fewest plan options for healthcare coverage in the entire state.
However, Boebert added a qualifier to her opposition. She committed to “never” voting to end coverage for pre-existing health conditions — a pillar protection of the ACA — but restated her support to repeal the landmark healthcare reform law. Associated Press reporting pointed out that she “has yet to reconcile those views.”
Mitsch-Bush characterized Boebert’s position with the following statement:
“Boebert repeatedly attacked Congressman Tipton for failing to ‘abolish’ the Affordable Care Act, which currently protects over 300,000 people with pre-existing conditions in this district,” Mitsch Bush said. “She said she wants to ‘repeal mandates’ of the ACA. She wants to join the Freedom Caucus, which came into power based on a promise to get rid of the ACA. Boebert’s position on health care has been clear from the start: if elected, she would work to repeal the ACA.”
Following her election to Congress, Boebert did in fact join the Freedom Caucus.
Beyond protecting pre-existing conditions, Boebert’s only hint at policy prescriptions for healthcare coverage reform were broad proposals based on free-market principles including transparency in pricing, cutting administrative costs to promote affordability and portability of employee health insurance plans. She remained steadfast in her desire to repeal Obamacare.