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More Coloradans than ever insured, report finds, but Senate still targeting ACA

Hickenlooper, Bennet oppose Cassidy-Graham bill that would slash federal spending on healthcare

September 19, 2017, 9:50 am

As Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders rallies the far left around a “single-payer” healthcare system and  Republicans Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy try yet again to kill the Affordable Care Act, moderate attempts to bring down skyrocketing health-insurance costs seem doomed amidst the ongoing partisan rancor. This despite a record number of Coloradans with health insurance, thanks largely to the ACA.


South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, right, at the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2015, with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic (David O. Williams photo).

A new report called the 2017 Colorado Health Access Survey, produced by the Colorado Health Institute, found Colorado’s uninsured rate fell to an all-time low of 6.5 percent.

“For the first time ever, over 5 million Coloradans have health insurance coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act, bringing our uninsured rate down to 6.5 percent,” said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “This begs the question why Republicans in Congress are pushing a last-ditch effort to repeal the ACA, gut Medicaid, and undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions?”

Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Tuesday joined Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich and a bipartisan group of eight other governors in opposing the Cassidy-Graham bill, instead continuing to back bipartisan efforts to shore up the ACA and bring down health insurance costs.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office last week found the Trump administration is driving up the costs of the ACA by threatening to de-fund the program and pulling money from outreach to sign people up. And Congress has less than two weeks to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or 9 million kids could lose coverage.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

In Colorado, which rejected a single-payer system last fall, insurance rates on the individual markets continue to spiral out of control, but bipartisan plans to shore up those markets in the short term do not appear to be gaining traction as Trumpcare begins to take shape — basically a comprehensive effort to undermine the ACA at all costs, even if average consumers bear the brunt of congressional inaction.

“Fewer Coloradans say they cannot afford insurance coverage, and, as much as Republicans seem to want to gut Medicaid, Coloradans enrolled in the program are generally pretty happy with their coverage,” Fox added. “The report highlights that affordability is still a challenge, especially in rural areas and for low-income Coloradans, but fewer Coloradans are struggling to pay their medical bills. Congress should be working to address the cost drivers in health care and to stabilize the individual market.”


U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez

Former small business owner Scott Tipton, a Republican who represents most of Colorado’s rural Western Slope in the sprawling 3rd Congressional District, points out that the Colorado Division of Insurance recently  approved average premium increases in the state’s individual health insurance market of 26.7 percent in 2018. Those rate increases will hit the Western Slope and other rural areas the hardest.

“This is on top of the 20 percent increase in 2017 and 24 percent increase in 2016,” Tipton wrote this week in a column and email to supporters. “The trajectory is unsustainable and unacceptable. We must repeal and replace the so-called Affordable Act and bring affordable health insurance to the 3rd Congressional District.”

Tipton in May voted in favor of the American Health Care Act that passed by four votes in the House before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had scored the bill. U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat who represents the rest of Eagle County, voted against that bill, calling it a “devastating attack” on American health care, and the CBO ultimately determined it would lead to much higher premiums for people with preexisting conditions and more than 23 million people losing coverage.

Tipton may get another chance to kill the ACA if the last-ditch effort to pass the Cassidy-Graham bill in the Senate is successful before a looming Sept. 30 deadline. Fox says that would be a disaster.

“The very same people who have gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act are again at risk of losing it with the Cassidy-Graham repeal bill being blitzed through the Senate,” Fox said. “[Colorado] Sen. [Cory] Gardner should heed his own calls for open hearings and bipartisanship as well as vote to protect the health care of 600,000 Coloradans who have coverage under the ACA and even more that rely on Medicaid programs covering seniors, people with disabilities, and children.”

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, has come out in opposition to the Cassidy-Graham bill, while Colorado Sen. Cory Garnder, a Republican, said he still needs more information in order to make a decision, which mirrors what he said in July before voting across the board to repeal and replace the ACA.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, according to the Associated Press, has promised to run the bill through his chamber if it passes the Senate. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office will not have time to score the bill before the Sept. 30 deadline.

Small business groups also oppose the Cassidy-Graham bill.

“Since U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham remain determined to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is once again necessary to remind lawmakers that the ACA has greatly benefited America’s small businesses,” said Small Business Majority founder and CEO John Arensmeyer. “One in five ACA marketplace participants in 2014 was a small business owner or self employed. We must also remember the countless solo entrepreneurs with pre-existing conditions who were able to launch their own businesses because the ACA finally meant they could no longer be denied coverage.”

The group also pushed for a bipartisan solution to shore up the ACA.

“The CBO report said much of this uncertainty is due to President Trump’s refusal to guarantee federal cost-sharing subsidies that lower the deductibles and co-pays for the ACA’s low-income enrollees,” Arensmeyer added. “What the president does not recognize is small businesses nationwide depend on provisions of the ACA for health insurance coverage, which is why a bipartisan solution must be found that strengthens the law rather than undermining it.”

Contact information for Colorado’s congressional delegation:


Michael Bennet, Democrat

261 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5852

Contact: www.bennet.senate.gov/?p=contact

Cory Gardner, Republican

354 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-5941

Contact: www.gardner.senate.gov/contact-cory/email-cory

House of Representatives

District 1 – Diane DeGette, Democrat

2111 Rayburn House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-4431

Contact: https://degette.house.gov/contact

District 2 – Jared Polis, Democrat

1727 Longworth House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-2161

Contact: https://polis.house.gov/contact/

District 3 – Scott Tipton, Republican

218 Cannon House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-4761

Contact: https://tipton.house.gov/contact/email

District 4 – Ken Buck, Republican

1130 Longworth House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-4676

Contact: https://buck.house.gov/contact

District 5 – Doug Lamborn, Republican2402 Rayburn House Office BuildingU.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515(202) 225-4422Contact: https://lamborn.house.gov/contact/District 6 – Mike Coffman, Republican

2443 Rayburn House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-7882

Contacts: https://coffman.house.gov/contact/

District 7 – Ed Perlmutter, Democrat

1410 Longworth House Office Building

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

(202) 225-2645

Contacts: https://perlmutter.house.gov/forms/writeyourrep/

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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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