The U.S. House of Representatives approved repeal of last year's healthcare
reform law by a vote of 245-189, led by its new Republican majority.
However, repeal is expected to fail in the Senate.
The state's four Republican members of Congress said they were voting for
repeal and the three Democrats said they were voting to keep the law.
The state's divided delegation can't even agree on what the law is likely to
do as it is phased in over years.
Republicans call the law "job-killing" and too expensive.
Democrats say it creates jobs, especially in healthcare. And they say repeal
would add to the deficit.
Republicans Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, Mike Coffman of suburban
Denver, Cory Gardner of northeastern Colorado and Scott Tipton from Western
Colorado all say requiring Americans to buy health insurance is
unconstitutional. Democrats say it is legal. The Supreme Court is expected
The sharpest disagreement over the effect of the law is financial. Democrats
like Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, cite a study by the Congressional Budget
Office, which says repeal will increase the deficit by $230 billion.
Republicans like Doug Lamborn reject the CBO estimate, even though the
budget office is non-partisan and typically respected.
"It's not based on honest accounting," said Lamborn. For example, he said it
doesn't address a shortage of funding for doctors treating patients on
Medicaid, the government health program for the poor.
Coffman was the most willing to find common ground on intent, if not on what
should be done.
"I don't think there's a single member who doesn't believe we need fairly
dramatic reform of our healthcare system, that it is not working, that we
need to expand access, that we need to lower costs. The system is too
expensive and it excludes too many," Coffman said. "With that said, I don't
think we're going on the right path."
He objects to the requirement that Americans buy insurance. He also is
concerned with cuts to Medicare Advantage to pay for the changes.
But Democrat Ed Perlmutter of suburban Denver said repeal is too extreme for
a law with numerous guarantees for Americans. "There's freedom from
discrimination against people with prior illnesses. There's freedom from
cancellation just because you get sick. There's freedom to move from job to
job without losing your insurance. And just those three alone are reason not
to repeal the thing."
DeGette said provisions beginning to take effect now help families. "They're
able to enroll the kids up to age 26 now on their insurance policies. People
can't be excluded from coverage because of pre-existing conditions. No
longer can insurance companies discriminate against women on the basis of
gender. And seniors are actually beginning to see some relief from their
prescription drug prices in the donut hole."
New Republicans Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton are concerned with
"I've heard it will take 24 to 28 new agencies," said Tipton.
Gardner held up a complex organization chart covered with small circles and
lines, produced by Republicans.
"I'm showing you a chart showing just how confusing it's going to be if you
have the flu and you want to go see your doctor," Gardner said. "This is the
new process that the health care bill is going to go through."
Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder also cited the protection for people
with pre-existing conditions, which so far affects only children. He also
praised a change that will allow people to gradually wean off Medicaid, the
government health insurance for the poorest Americans. Now, low-paid workers
don't dare take a raise for fear of losing their health insurance, he said.
A new AP-Gfk poll found the number of Americans who want the bill repealed
has dropped from 32 percent to 26 percent. Even among Republicans, support
for repeal has fallen from 61 percent to 49 percent since November.
A Washington Post poll found 32 percent favor full repeal of the entire law.
Opposition polls stronger than repeal, with 50 percent opposed and 45
percent supporting the law, unchanged since August 2009.