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Opinion: Boebert votes to strip away health care as constituents suffer

May 25, 2021, 10:33 am
Lauren Boebert at a Grand Junction rally (Barton Glasser for Colorado Newsline).

As Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado tweeted on Wednesday, “Liz Cheney is the GOP of the past. We are not going back.” So let’s dig in a little more into what the brave new Republican world of 2021 looks like.

I’m a blood cancer survivor in Colorado. Four years ago, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I survived six months of chemotherapy and a month of radiation and am grateful to be in remission today.

But one of the hardest truths about cancer is that it’s never really “done.” If my cancer comes back, I may need a bone marrow transplant to survive.

I share my personal story to shed light on the National Marrow Donor Program. NMDP helps patients with life-threatening blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma find a donor match, and is up for reauthorization in Congress. They have facilitated over 100,000 blood stem cell transplants since their founding in 1986, saving more than a hundred thousand American lives. This is a nonpartisan issue. In fact the U.S. House of Representatives voted 415-2 last month to support it.

Colorado’s own lawmaker, Lauren Boebert, who represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, was one of the two votes against this registry. Is this what the future of the GOP is for?

As a Coloradan and a cancer survivor, I take Boebert’s lack of support as an affront, not only to me but to other cancer survivors across the state. She doesn’t even have an understandable response for her vote. Boebert’s gibberish official tweet (now deleted) equated votes about sesame seeds with her vote against the National Marrow Donor Program, which potentially affects so many lives, including mine. Her lengthier explanation involved not adding to the national debt, however Boebert doesn’t seem to object to lower tax rates for corporations, debt be damned.

In case you missed it, Boebert also made a few headlines for noisily unfurling a space blanket as President Biden addressed both houses of Congress last month. Her disturbance was yet another demonstration of her interest in choosing to represent spectacle over substance. Boebert’s office seems more concerned with spiking the ball on her so-called opponents than handling the work she was elected to do.

For example, Boebert is more interested in trolling a survivor of gun violence  on Twitter and setting up gun displays in her zoom backgrounds than saving lives by taking action on gun safety.

Colorado has a long and bloody history of gun massacres, from the Columbine school shooting in 1999 to the Aurora movie theater shooting in 2012 through the Boulder grocery store shooting a couple months ago and the Colorado Springs shooting at a birthday party just a few days ago. Yet Boebert’s list of introduced and cosponsored bills includes nothing on the topic, save for a bill for less regulation of gun silencers and a bill to allow people to more easily transport firearms across state lines. Her response to the tragic violence in Boulder? Use it as a fundraising pitch. Boebert has no answers, only guns.

Coloradans deserve so much better than this.

Controversy and trolling is her main motive. Boebert has even voted against carbon monoxide detectors, and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Yet zero of her sponsored or cosponsored bills have even passed the House, let alone become law.

This follows the evolution of the modern Republican Party, from a philosophy of conservatism that stood for something to grasping for whatever produces the social media buzz and feeds the outrage machine. Boebert is fully insulated from the pain of her constituents via the right-wing news bubble. The script she reads from attempts to recast her as the real victim, of “cancel culture.”

Four years ago, on the day after my first chemotherapy appointment, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which was keeping me alive at the time. These callous or clueless lawmakers came within one vote of stripping away the ACA in the Senate, with no plan to replace it for people with pre-existing conditions like me. Millions of Americans would be uninsurable without it, which Republican senators like John McCain took into account with their vote at the time.

Boebert makes it clear how she would have voted on the Affordable Care Act repeal. Many of her constituents in small rural communities on the Western Slope and in southwest Colorado pay some of the highest prices on health care in the state. Judging from Boebert’s vote on the bone marrow registry, however, she has only negative votes and snarky tweets to provide, instead of solutions. If the Supreme Court rules against the ACA in the next few weeks, what, if anything, will she do for Coloradans like me?

The face of the Republican party of 2021 is Lauren Boebert, not Liz Cheney or John McCain. I believe she would happily vote to strip away health care from millions of Americans like me. Stripping away the National Donor Marrow Program is just her first step. We must remember and vote accordingly next year.

Editor’s note 1: This commentary first appeared on Colorado Newsline, which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news outlets supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: info@coloradonewsline.com. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

Editor’s note 2: Laura Packard is a stage 4 cancer survivor and Denver-based health care advocate, and founder of Health Care Voices, a nonprofit grassroots organization for adults with serious medical conditions.

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Laura Packard

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