A trio of Republican congressmen from Colorado held telephone town halls Wednesday night following the release of their party’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.
Coloradans dialed in with questions for Rep. Scott Tipton, CO-3, Rep. Doug Lamborn, CO-5, and Sen. Cory Gardner. They used the chorus of conference calls to lay out their hopes for the American Health Care Act. None declared solid support or opposition to the bill.
To give some background on the plan, the AHCA swaps out the current individual mandate and subsidies with a tax credit meant to entice people to buy coverage. It retains some of the more popular provisions in the ACA, like the ban on denying insurance based on preexisting conditions.
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President Trump has thrown his weight behind the House bill. So far, it has drawn fierce opposition from Democrats like Sen. Michael Bennet, who railed against it in an interview with Colorado Matters.
Here’s what the Republicans said they liked about the AHCA — and what they want changed.
Sen. Cory Gardner repeated his position against any replacement that doesn’t protect Coloradans who gained Medicaid under Obamacare. He first took that stance in letter responding to a February draft of the bill. During his telephone town hall, Gardner didn’t say whether the current House bill met his standard.
"We've got to make sure we have something better than what we have today," Gardner said. "And I hope that's the goal of every Republican and Democrat in the United States Congress."
He found one thing he like about the AHCA: it strips Planned Parenthood of federal funding in favor of federally qualified health care clinics. That’s long been a priority for the pro-life Republican.
Otherwise, the senator took a wait-and-see approach on the House bill, saying he’d “continue to engage in these kinds of discussions to make sure we get this right for the American people.”
Rep. Scott Tipton suggested he would have embraced an Obamacare repeal effort without a replacement. As for the proposed AHCA, he’s waiting to what comes out of the committees currently reviewing the legislation.
Tipton said the final version should be assessed on whether it makes health care “more accessible and affordable” — a phrase he repeated throughout his tele-town hall.
He also endorsed a work requirement for Medicaid. In other words, recipients would have to be employed or take job training courses to receive care through the federal program. The bill would give states more freedom to structure Medicaid and potentially set such a requirement.
Rep. Doug Lamborn likes the bill the most of the trio who held tele-town halls Wednesday night. In comments prior to the call, he told The Denver Post it’s a start on “repeal and replace.” He praised the current version for cutting taxes, ending the individual mandate and blocking funding to Planned Parenthood.