U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet during a visit to Durango on Monday defended his support of the health-care overhaul signed
into law last month.
It's not a perfect bill, but it's an enormous step forward from where we were," he said.
He said criticisms that it will drive up the deficit and balloon the ranks of the publicly insured are unfounded.
Currently, those who can't afford health insurance end up on Medicaid or in the emergency room. So taxpayers already
are footing the bill but in the least intentional, most expensive way."
He said the ratio of those covered by private vs. public insurance will remain the same.
It is not a government takeover of health care," he said at a meeting of about 15 community leaders.
At the same time, the legislation will do away with people being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions and
prohibit carriers from dropping policyholders because they get sick, he said.
Bennet, who was appointed to replace former Sen. Ken Salazar after his appointment as Interior secretary, is facing a
tight primary race against fellow Democrat and former state Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff, who came out ahead in
caucuses held around the state last month.
Local Democratic delegates, however, favored Bennet by
If Bennet does prevail in the August primary, he'll face a tough race against the Republican challenger, who will be
selected by primary voters from a field of five candidates.
The health-care overhaul promises to be front and center in that contest.
Jane Norton, former lieutenant governor and apparent Republican front-runner, called the bill's passage one of the
darkest hours in Washington's recent history."
Pride comes before the fall, and fall will come quickly for Senator Bennet and others who have foisted this upon the
American people," she wrote in a statement on her campaign Web site.
Norton, in a news release issued Monday, announced her latest fundraising totals: $816,000 in the first quarter of 2010
and a total war chest of $1.9 million.
Bennet's campaign office said he had not released his first-quarter 2010 totals yet, but in the last quarter of 2009,he raised $1.16 million and had $4.75 million total.
Romanoff's campaign, in response to a Durango Herald inquiry, said he has not released any fundraising numbers.
A Washington Post article published Sunday under the title In Colorado, a former rising star is as welcome as space
junk" put Romanoff's total at less than $1 million as he struggles to overcome Bennet's support among the Democratic
Romanoff finds himself in the role of the uninvited guest because he has chosen to challenge Sen. Michael Bennet in
the Democrats' Senate primary. In a year in which the party is on the defensive, officials are not enthusiastic about
challenges to vulnerable incumbents, which Bennet is," the article read.
Romanoff has seized on his outsider status and criticized Bennet as beholden to special interests.
He has received $885,195 in political action committee contributions. This is why getting big money out of politics
did not make it to his list of needed reforms," he stated in a recent news release.