In some of his most candid remarks to date about the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner told a conservative crowd that public health advice and science have been politicized in recent months, causing an erosion of public trust.
Gardner, a Yuma Republican, spoke in person to the Steamboat Institute’s annual Freedom Conference on Aug. 28. Video of Gardner’s remarks was uploaded to YouTube this week.
Gardner was asked by a panel moderator how the coronavirus pandemic became “so political” and why it had eroded “public trust in our media, in our institutions, in our government.” The senator, who faces re-election in two months, criticized public health experts, scientists, governments and the media for, he said, picking economic winners and losers based on political and philosophical beliefs.
You can watch his remarks below:
It’s clear Gardner is desperate and running scared because the polling shows him losing big time:
Republican Senator Cory Gardner is trailing his Democratic challenger John Hickenlooper by nine points with less than two months to go until polling day, new polling data shows.
The new battleground state survey from Morning Consult found that 48 percent of likely voters in Colorado intended to back Hickenlooper on November 3 as just 39 percent favored Gardner for another term in the upper chamber.
When the pollster last surveyed likely voters in the state, Hickenlooper's lead was three points tighter, with 48 percent leaning toward the challenger and 42 percent backing Gardner.
It’s not just the pandemic that’s hurting Gardner. It’s his record on health care:
President Donald Trump has spoken of coming legislation, but part of the problem has been GOP infighting over how to move forward. That killed the party’s chance to unwind the Affordable Care Act in 2017, as they’d vowed to do for years, when Republicans took control of Congress and the White House. “We haven’t kept our promise,” Gardner said last year.
Gardner can identify goals for the replacement legislation, but not exactly what it would do. Still, he says, America doesn’t need Obamacare to have a functioning health care system.
“This is not a zero-sum game,” Gardner said. “It is not the ACA or nothing. We can have, and have been working on, a plan to reduce costs and increase the quality of care. That’s what I will continue to work on.”
Democrats see the lack of a Republican health care plan as a liability for Gardner and are working to make sure voters know about the gap heading into November. They are making health care a top issue in Colorado’s 2020 U.S. Senate race, in which Gardner faces a difficult path to reelection.
This has been an issue that has been haunting Gardner all election year and no, his bill isn’t serious:
Gardner’s bill is Senate Bill 4506. Its substance is contained within a single sentence that states:
A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage may not impose any pre-existing condition exclusion with respect to such plan or coverage, 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.
In comparison, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), was more than 900 pages long.
In fact, former Governor and U.S. Senate candidate, John Hickenlooper (D, CO)’s record when it comes to health care is superior to Gardner’s:
As a Colorado House of Representatives staffer from 2010-2013 and as a representative myself since 2017, I saw firsthand what Gov. Hickenlooper did for people struggling to afford high-quality health care coverage. The Affordable Care Act, while imperfect, was a huge step forward for many reasons, including protections for people with preexisting conditions. In 2011, one of then-Congressman Gardner’s very first votes in Congress was to repeal the ACA. That same year, Gov. Hickenlooper signed a bill establishing Connect for Health Colorado, a cost-effective and transparent tool to help people shop for health insurance. And he appointed a health care reformer, Sue Birch, to head the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing where she led efforts to integrate behavioral and physical health care and move away from fee-for-service and towards paying-for-value in our Medicaid program.
In May 2013, as Congressman Gardner voted for the 37 th time to gut the ACA, Hickenlooper signed the Medicaid expansion bill, giving coverage to half a million more Coloradans. Also in 2013, Hickenlooper signed an executive order establishing the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, a first-of-its-kind collaboration that has helped Colorado emerge as a national leader on fighting the opioid crisis, which is killing nearly 50,000 Americans each year even while COVID-19 has killed 173,000 this year.
In 2014, Congressional Republicans–including Cory Gardner–finally achieved one of their goals and defunded the risk corridors program, which was a critical component of the ACA designed to ensure costs wouldn’t spike in rural regions like Colorado’s western slope, where people pay some of the highest insurance premiums in the whole country. This action directly contributed to the huge increases in premiums over the next several years. The premium increases were so bad that many people opted out of buying health insurance at all. The reduced enrollment elevated the risk of a potential collapse of the individual market that would shift higher costs onto everyone else. Toward the end of the 2017 session, Gov. Hickenlooper’s team approached me about sponsoring a bill to study the potential for a “reinsurance” program to reduce premiums, stabilize the market, and prevent the cost shift.
And of course, Hickenlooper has been hammering Gardner on this:
Hickenlooper, a Democrat and former Colorado governor, touted his role in expanding Medicaid in the state and setting up health insurance exchanges to cover more Coloradans, arguing the federal government needs to take a leadership role to improve the Affordable Care Act and create a public option to expand access to health care and reduce patient costs.
Meanwhile, Hickenlooper said, Gardner and his Republican allies in the U.S. Senate and White House are showing “reckless nonchalance” about health care even as the country continues to grapple with a coronavirus pandemic that has forced tens of millions of people out of work and caused them to lose their employer-based health insurance.
“The bottom line is (Cory Gardner) continues to support Donald Trump’s lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to eviscerate it, to dismantle it,” Hickenlooper said. “He said he has a bill that would provide protections for people with preexisting medical conditions, but that has been debunked. There is nothing in that bill that will give people protections if they have preexisting conditions if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.”
Let’s keep up the momentum to keep Colorado Blue. Click below to donate and get involved with Hickenlooper, Biden and their fellow Colorado Democrats campaigns: