Coloradans represented in Congress by Rep. Lauren Boebert left letters at her Durango, Grand Junction, and Pueblo offices Monday, asking her to stop backing a Republican push to gut Medicare and Social Security.
“Medicare is a resounding, bipartisan success with nearly 1 million Coloradans enrolled into Medicare today,” read the open letter, which was left at the offices in the three biggest cities in Congressional District 3, which Boebert represents, the day after the Medicare program marked 58 years of existence.
“So why do you, Representative Boebert, support a plan to cut Medicare?” the letter said, referring to the 2023 budget drafted last year by the conservative Republican Study Committee, which Boebert is a member of.
The plan proposed raising the eligibility ages for Medicare and Social Security, withholding payments for individuals who retire early or have a certain income, and privatizing funding for Social Security to lower income taxes, the White House says on its website.
Changes like those would mean older Coloradans would have to “go through additional bureaucratic red tape just to get the health care and benefits they need,” said Amber Miller, spokesperson for Rocky Mountain Values, one of the groups that signed the letter. Individuals from Boebert’s district who are on Medicare also signed it.
“By no means is Medicare perfect but the steps [Boebert] is taking – she continuously works on these out-of-touch proposals instead of doing things like fixing the bureaucratic challenges Medicare has and strengthening it,” Miller said.
“She’s undermining and gutting it and that just doesn’t match up with what her district wants her to be doing,” said Miller.
Boebert has backed Republican-proposed changes to Medicare on several occasions and in several guises, according to Rocky Mountain Values.
In addition to the Republican Study Committee budget, the congresswoman, whose sprawling district includes the cities of Aspen, Durango, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Ignacio, and Pueblo, as well as much of the rural Western Slope, also voted against the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes a key provision that allows Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs. This spring, she backed the House Republicans’ debt ceiling proposal, which would have weakened Medicare and cut its and Social Security’s budget.
Lawsuit instead of conversation
When Rocky Mountain Values ran a 30-second television ad in June, outlining Boebert’s support for proposals that would undermine Medicare, the congresswoman had her lawyers draft a letter threatening criminal charges against the non-profit, Miller said.
“We responded that our ad was accurate, and we haven’t heard from her since,” said Miller, whose group recently released evidence that Boebert deleted from her website references that she supported the plan to cut Medicare and Social Security proposed by the Republican Study Committee.
“But that is the only response that we’ve gotten her to make regarding this position,” she added. “Instead of changing her stance or listening to her constituents, she’s tried to sue us. We’d welcome a response and, even more, we would welcome her to change her position.”
Rocky Mountain Values focuses, in large part, on economic issues, including healthcare costs.
The Colorado Times Recorder called and emailed Boebert’s press office to give them the opportunity to react to the letter, but had not received a response as of Tuesday afternoon.
But in a post on one of her Facebook pages, Boebert wrote she has “NEVER voted to cut Medicare or Social Security” and always stood “with our seniors to protect their health care.”
Her campaign manager, Drew Sexton, told KKCO TV in Grand Junction that the letter left at her district offices – only one of which was open Monday – was a “desperate political stunt” by Rocky Mountain Values, which he called a far-left special-interest group that has “no credibility on issues of public policy.”
He, too, insisted that Boebert has “unwavering support for our seniors” and “has NEVER voted to cut Medicare and has NEVER voted to cut Social Security for that matter.”
Boebert voted for a measure in April that would have cut funding for the Social Security Administraition and significantly impacted the agency’s ability to deliver benefits to the public. Boebert missed the House vote in June on the bill to suspend the debt ceiling until the beginning of 2025 but had said she intended to vote against it, Roll Call reported.
Days before the final vote on the Inflation Reduction Act in August last year, she said on the social media platform that used to be known as Twitter that it would be “the easiest no vote yet.”
She did co-sponsor the Social Security Guarantee Act of 2023, which is working its way through Congress. It would require the Treasury Department to guarantee Social Security beneficiaries the full monthly benefit to which they are entitled and give them an annual cost-of-living increase, while also tweaking the way Social Security is funded.
And in an email sent out Monday to advise when her staff will be available in August to assist constituents, one of the issues Boebert offered to help with was “senior citizens having issues with the Social Security Administration or Medicare.” An email in June about mobile hours had the same message.
‘On the wrong side of issues’
Rocky Mountain Values insisted that Boebert “has continuously been on the wrong side of these issues, based on what we hear from folks in her district,” and pledged to continue to “beat the drum” on Medicare and Social Security, Miller said.
“We’ll continue to yell from our bullhorn, and we’ll continue to make stops throughout the district and elevate the voices of Coloradans so that she will hear us,” she said.
Some 65 million people in the U.S. have Medicare, which provides health insurance for those aged 65 and older and younger people with long-term disabilities, according to a brief by KFF, an independent health policy research, polling and journalism group.
In 2021, 169,333 people in Boebert’s district, or about 22% of the population, were eligible for Medicare. That’s the highest number of any congressional district in Colorado, a report by the House Ways and Means Committee shows.
Different “parts” of Medicare help to pay for hospital and physician visits, prescription drugs, and other care services. It is funded primarily through general revenues, payroll taxes – which fell sharply during the coronavirus pandemic – and premiums, which are significantly lower than those paid under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
CLARIFICATION: This article was updated on 8/4/23 to include Boebert’s April vote to cut funds to the Social Security Administration.