With His Health Care Votes, Sen. Gardner Stands By Repeal And Replace

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Photo: Senate Health Care Votes | Mitch McConnell And Cory Gardner - AP
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., left, and Sen. Corey Gardner, R-Colo., walk to the Senate Chamber, July 27, 2017.

Sen. Cory Gardner cast three “aye” votes this week to repeal the Affordable Care Act — part of an effort by Republicans to follow through on a 7-year promise that ultimately met its end early Friday morning.

Gardner contends the ACA is failing Coloradans and he wants to find a way to replace it and make it better, including finding efficiencies in Medicaid and helping rural areas keep hospitals afloat using other sources of money. His Democratic colleagues, including Sen. Michael Bennet, have called the Republican votes on repealing the health care legislation shameful and have asked for a more open bipartisan plan.

Sen. Bennet was a nay vote on the three votes for health care this week.

Here is what Sen. Gardner had to say ahead of Thursday nights/Friday morning’s dramatic vote for the skinny bill on the Senate floor: (Answers have been condensed.)

On His Votes To Repeal The Affordable Care Act:

“I’ve said all along that we would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. That’s exactly what we have to do … I think this is an effort that will repeal the Affordable Care Act and I believe we need to do a replacement. The Affordable Care Act has hurt Coloradans.”

On Talking About Preserving Part Of The Medicaid Expansion And Casting Votes This Week For Plans That Decrease Or Cut The Program:

“Simply throwing more dollars at that program isn’t always the answer. You need to use those dollars more efficiently and effectively and there will be better ways to manage the program. That’s why I’ve supported efforts to get states more flexibility to manage the program. One of the ideas we focused on is how we give the states the ability to manage Medicaid expansion populations in a way that could combine tax credits, giving poor people access to insurance for the first time of their lives, which comes along with doctors who get higher reimbursement rates. I think there are multiple ways we can come together on a solution.”

On Squaring Coming From A Rural Area With Advocates Who Say Stripping Medicaid Expansion Hurts Those Areas, Particularly Hospitals:

“We’ve seen dozens of rural hospitals close across the country … with hundreds facing closure now under existing laws. They’re closing with the Affordable Care Act. This is very much a focus of mine. I’ve introduced legislation called the REACH Act that would focus on ways for rural hospitals to survive. But I think for people to say they were well off … after the Affordable Care Act is not true. I think we can do better.”

On Voting For Legislation That Analysts Say Would Lead To More Uninsured:

“We need to grow the economy to get people in good paying jobs that have benefits. How do we make sure that people have access to a good paying job that has benefits or perhaps they’re earning enough money that they’re able to purchase affordable insurance in the individual market? I think the status quo is unacceptable. If you look at Colorado we have 2.3 percent unemployment rate and one million people on Medicaid, so how do we make sure able bodied adults without children that are in jobs that give them good insurance? This is a problem we need to rise to address.”