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Hickenlooper rips Gardner for ‘government malpractice’ on health care, lack of plan

September 10, 2020, 9:06 am
John Hickenlooper in Eagle last week.

EAGLE — Former Colorado Governor and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, during a tour of the Grizzly Creek Fire incident command center in Eagle last week, took a minute to lay out his U.S. Senate campaign platform on health care as he tries to unseat incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner.

“Government should only do the things that people can’t do for themselves and having a health plan that includes everybody clearly is beyond the means of many individuals,” Hickenlooper, a Democrat, told RealVail.com. “By many, I’m talking about millions and millions of people, so we can create a public option and there are other savings we can find in our health care infrastructure that’ll help pay for it. It’s not going to cost an arm and leg.”

Critics of a national pubic option, which was originally part of Obamacare proposals in 2009 but stripped out to woo moderate Democrats, say it’s too expensive and a slippery slope to single-payer, government-controlled health insurance. Hickenlooper challenges that argument.

“That is such a misnomer, such a false description,” Hickenlooper said. “If we start negotiating discounts for the bulk purchases of prescription drugs and look at some of those savings and how they would augment and really in many ways pay for a sliding-scale public option. So if people can’t find what they want on the exchange, they have an alternative, they have something they can choose that will serve their needs.”

State lawmakers in mountain counties have been pushing a Colorado public option that uses the infrastructure of the private insurance industry. It was derailed this past legislative session by deep budget cuts necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Democrat Dylan Roberts of Avon vows to bring it back next session because so many people are losing employer-based insurance along with their jobs and may not be eligible for some plans due to preexisting conditions.

Roberts also contends a public option will create more competition in his two counties – Routt and Eagle – where there’s currently just one company selling Obamacare plans on the individual market (for people who do not get their health insurance through their employer).

Eagle County has some of the highest individual market rates in the nation, and Democrats fear the situation will get worse if the Trump administration, which supports a Republican lawsuit challenging Obamacare, is successful in having it overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We maintain the protections for people with preexisting conditions,” Hickenlooper said of national public option that would not be able to exclude people based on previous cases of COVID-19, cancer or other diseases. “Gardner says he’s got a bill for that. But every expert who has looked says it’s a joke.”

Sen. Cory Gardner
Sen. Cory Gardner

Primarily, health care experts who have examined Gardner’s very bare-bones proposal say it doesn’t allow insurers to explicitly exclude customers for preexisting conditions but also doesn’t compel them to provide insurance to those people they way Obamacare does.

“Cory Gardner has been in office for almost six years now and he has no alternative,” Hickenlooper said of his Republican opponent. “He continues to try to take away the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), continues to take away people’s protections for preexisting conditions. and he has in five years not put forward any kind of a believable, credible alternative. I think that’s government malpractice.”

The Gardner campaign sent this in response: “Gardner is leading the bill to ensure a group health plan and insurers offering group plans may not impose any exclusion, factor health status into premiums or charges, exclude benefits relating to pre-existing conditions from coverage, or otherwise exclude benefits, set limits, or increase charges based on any pre-existing condition or health status.”

A Gardner campaign spokesperson also sent a written statement identical to a statement attributed to a different spokesperson in a Colorado Sun story:

“Senator Gardner consistently talks about lowering health care costs, strengthening innovation, and expanding access for all Coloradans,” said Meghan Graf, Gardner campaign spokesperson. “While Governor Hickenlooper and Democrats push for a one-size-fits-all, government-run approach, Senator Gardner has focused his efforts on bipartisan, commonsense policies that improve health care for Coloradans.”

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is the editor and co-founder of RealVail.com and has had his awarding-winning work (see About Us) published in more than 75 newspapers and magazines around the world, including 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), the Anchorage Daily Press (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Boulder Daily Camera, the Casper Star Tribune (Wyoming), the Chicago Tribune, Colorado Central Magazine, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Newsline, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Cortez Journal, the Craig Daily Press, the Curry Coastal Pilot (Oregon), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Del Norte Triplicate (California), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Gazette, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, Explore Big Sky (Mont.), the Fort Morgan Times (Colorado), the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), the Kingman Daily Miner (Arizona), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the Las Vegas Sun, the Leadville Herald-Democrat, the London Daily Mirror, the Moab Times Independent (Utah), the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), the Montrose Daily Press, The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, the Rio Blanco Herald Times (Colorado), Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), the Salt Lake Tribune, SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Sky-Hi News, the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the Sterling Journal Advocate (Colorado), the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Health Magazine, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail, Westword (Denver), Writers on the Range and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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