What Colorado lawmakers are saying about the Senate’s delay of the Republican health care bill

Senator Cory Gardner introduces  U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman as the victor at the 2016 GOP watch party at the Double Tree Hotel in Greenwood Village on Nov. 8, 2016.  (Jessica Taves/For Denverite)

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has delayed a vote on the Republicans’ controversial health care bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. McConnell had pledged a vote before the July 4 recess, but now lawmakers will go home without any decisions made.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, has remained publicly undecided on the bill even as other defections made his vote less significant for the eventual passage or failure of the bill. However, Gardner could become a swing vote again as Republican leadership tries to find that policy mix that will mollify conservatives without losing too many moderates.

“We will still be working to get at least 50 people in a comfortable place,” McConnell said.

Meanwhile, expect Democrats and others to keep lobbying the senator. The current version of the bill would cause more than 628,000 Coloradans to lose coverage from changes to Medicaid alone, according to the Colorado Health Institute; rural areas would be hit the hardest, according to the Colorado Fiscal Institute. The Congressional Budget Office estimates 22 million Americans would lose access to health insurance by 2026.

“Trust me, by hook or by crook I will get a hold of (Gardner) before there’s any vote. I’ll go camp out on his doorstep if I have to,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said during an appearance at the National Press Club with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican. (The Denver Post was there.) “He is someone who is, you know, a very conservative Republican. But he also doesn’t think being a conservative Republican means putting hundreds people of thousands at risk” of losing their health insurance in Colorado.

Here’s what Colorado lawmakers are saying about the decision to delay a vote:


John Hickenlooper. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Gov. John Hickenlooper

Party: Democrat

Basically: Hick and other governors have been outspoken on their displeasure with Republican alternatives to the Affordable Care Act. He said the delayed vote was a “good start.”

From Twitter: 


Cory Gardner. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)
(Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

Sen. Michael Bennet

Party: Democrat

Basically: Bennet has been a strong advocate for improving the Affordable Care Act instead of replacing it. He claims that the Republicans’ planned replacement would hurt millions of Americans and a delayed vote doesn’t change that.

From Twitter:


Cory Gardner. (Jessica Taves for Denverite)
(Jessica Taves for Denverite)

Sen. Cory Gardner

Party: Republican

Basically: The Senate should take the time it needs to get the bill right. Gardner has said that any Republican replacement should protect people covered by the Medicaid expansion, which this version of the bill doesn’t do. Gardner has not come out in opposition, and he told the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews on Monday that he had heard positive feedback from people in the insurance industry. He’s officially undecided on the bill itself.

From the statement: “The Affordable Care Act is imploding, and Senator Gardner has made clear that we must bring relief to Coloradans who are negatively impacted by it,” a spokesman said. “The Senate needs to work together to produce a bill that will rescue Americans from the Affordable Care Act and taking more time to get it right for the people of Colorado is a good decision.”

And on potential changes to the bill, Gardner told Politico: “We’ve been talking about Medicaid, seeing if we can get it right for the states.”


Diana DeGette. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Rep. Diana DeGette (Denver)

Party: Democrat

Basically: DeGette echoed fellow Democrats saying Congress should improve the Affordable Care Act instead of scrap it.

From the statement:


Jared Polis. (Sara Hertwig for Denverite)
(Sara Hertwig for Denverite)

Rep. Jared Polis (Boulder)

Party: Democrat

Basically: Polis opposes Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare. As a candidate for governor, he could have to deal with the fallout of any federal changes. He urged Democrats to keep up the pressure.

From Facebook: “BREAKING: Senate Republicans have delayed a vote on their cruel healthcare bill. Over the next week, I hope Republicans reach out to Democrats, so we can work together to meet the 3 major criteria the American people demand:
1. Reducing cost
2. Increasing coverage
3. Improving quality”


Scott Tipton. (U.S. House/Public Domain)
(U.S. House/Public Domain)

Scott Tipton (Western Colorado)

Party: Republican

Basically: He voted for the House version of this bill.

From the statement: No statement yet.


Ken Buck. (U.S. House/Public Domain)
(U.S. House/Public Domain)

Ken Buck (Greeley and eastern plains)

Party: Republican

Basically: He voted for the House version of this bill. Last week, a spokesman said Buck is looking forward to seeing the final version that comes out of the Senate.

From the statement: No statement yet.


Doug Lamborn. (U.S. House/Public Domain)
(U.S. House/Public Domain)

Doug Lamborn (Colorado Springs)

Party: Republican

Basically: He voted for the House version of this bill and is not known for bucking his party.

From the statement: No statement yet.


Mike Coffman. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Mike Coffman (Aurora)

Party: Republican

Basically: Coffman was the lone Colorado Republican to vote no on the House version.

From the statement: No statement yet.


Ed Perlmutter. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Ed Perlmutter (Lakewood)

Party: Democrat

Basically: Perlmutter opposes Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare. As a candidate for governor, he could have to deal with the fallout of any federal changes. He urged Democrats to keep up the pressure.

From Twitter:

Denverite reporters Adrian D. Garcia and Andrew Kenney contributed to this report. 

This is a developing story and we’ll update this post as we see more reaction.

Erica Meltzer

Author: Erica Meltzer

Erica Meltzer covers government and politics. She's worked for newspapers in Colorado, Arizona and Illinois and once won a First Amendment Award by showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and can swear fluently in Guarani. She gets emotional about public libraries. Contact Erica Meltzer at 303-502-2802, emeltzer@denverite.com or @meltzere.