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Hickenlooper Calls On Republicans To Work With Dems On Health Bill

State of Colorado

Colorado has two elected voices to turn to when it comes to the proposed Republican health care bill: Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner.

Bennet is a Democrat and has made clear his stance on the bill, calling it “fundamentally flawed.”

Gardner, a Republican known for his repeated attempts to repeal former President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, hasn’t stated opposition to his party’s effort to replace the bill in the Senate. Yet he hasn’t said he’d support it either.

“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,” said Gardner spokeswoman Casey Contres in a statement to KUNC. “Once a new draft version is introduced, Sen. Gardner will continue to review it.”

While he has no vote, another top Colorado politician is looking to influence the proceedings: Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. He’s been outspoken on the bill, which he said doesn’t serve the state’s best interests. 

“In Colorado, we have certain rural counties where over 50 percent of the population is on Medicaid,” Hickenlooper said in an interview with 1A. “If you roll back Medicaid, you are creating a real problem with their Medicaid coverage. At the same time, these plans cut resources for already limited health care clinics and hospitals.”

On June 27, Hickenlooper was in Washington D.C. with Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio. Together, they presented a united front against the proposed bill, calling for a bipartisan process to fix America’s health care woes.

Hickenlooper expanded on his thoughts about the bill and alternatives in an interview with KUNC.

Interview Highlights

On the health care bill:

Hickenlooper: When I look at what the potential consequences are for the Senate bill that was proposed -- you know, the U.S. Senate is supposed to be the soul of this country. And to put together something that is clearly, basically a massive tax cut for the richest Americans, who aren’t asking for it -- most of whom don’t want it -- to me, it’s a shallow political maneuver that is taking us backwards and not taking us forwards.

On Gardner’s position:

Hickenlooper: You know, he’s in a tough spot. Because his party’s gonna put tremendous pressure on him and he’s gotta look in his own heart and he’s gotta try and figure out what is the right thing for Colorado and the right thing for this country.

On drafting a new bill:

Hickenlooper: I would suggest they get a couple of Democratic and a couple of Republican governors, because we’re the ones that have to implement this stuff. Whoever they are, I don’t think that matters, but I think process does make a difference in what the outcomes are that you get. And I think this outcome -- we’re trying to improve this system, not kill it.

As the host of KUNC’s new program and podcast In the NoCo, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. Northern Colorado is such a diverse and growing region, brimming with history, culture, music, education, civic engagement, and amazing outdoor recreation. I love finding the stories and voices that reflect what makes NoCo such an extraordinary place to live.
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