In Sen. Cory Gardner’s op-ed for this paper (“It was a great year for Colorado,” Jan. 11), he talks about Colorado’s wellbeing. I have had a pretty great year here, but in spite of my senator, not because of him.
I’m a stage 4 cancer survivor. I moved to Colorado at the beginning of last year because I needed to keep my health insurance, despite all of the attacks on a national level aided and abetted by my new senator. It was another year of remission for me, so in that sense, it has indeed been great.
However, if the Affordable Care Act is done in by Gardner’s votes and his choices, I will have to fall back on the limited protections available on the state level. Because if my cancer comes back, I will die without insurance.
Every move Gardner makes to threaten it, I feel pretty keenly. I wish that he cared as much about his constituents as he does about tax cuts for his donor friends.
Gardner’s op-ed touted his work on health care over the past year. It’s certainly good to hear from my senator (and I didn’t even have to travel all the way to New York City this time). He has not held a public town hall in over two years, and refuses to do press interviews or any opportunities to explain his health care record to Coloradans like me, preferring closed-door meetings with carefully screened audiences or drop-by, staged photo-ops.
There’s just a couple of issues with the health care accomplishments that Gardner was so eager to showcase in his op-ed. They come at the expense of people like me – or they’re not even his to begin with.
Let’s start where the senator does: with Colorado’s reinsurance waiver. Gardner claims to have played a direct role in securing an insurance waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that saved Coloradans more than 20% on insurance premiums. It’s true, I did save on my premiums for 2020. But again, that’s in spite of my senator, not because of him.
Any quick scan of the headlines will show that the bulk of the work was done by the likes of women legislators such as Colorado Sen. Kerry Donovan, who worked tirelessly to pass this legislation at the state level. She was quick to retort via Twitter, saying: “Zero calls from @SenCoryGardner’s office and zero support from him over the years we’ve been working on this. Instead, he’s been in DC trying to repeal Obamacare – the very foundation of reinsurance to begin with. But, sure, take credit ... #copolitics.”
While Coloradans were working to make health insurance more affordable, Gardner has been in Washington, D.C., attacking the very foundations that reinsurance was built on. He voted at least seven times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the same law that saved my life and makes reinsurance possible. But you wouldn’t know that from his op-ed or from his campaign website, which recently removed all references to the senator’s opposition to the law.
Gardner says he wants Coloradans to have access to quality health care, but he continuously refuses to support the Shaheen resolution to protect the ACA, threatens the 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions like me by promoting junk plans and undermines funding for the country’s already too vulnerable rural hospitals by threatening cuts to the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital program.
He has not taken action on ending surprise medical bills, and he is nowhere to be found on the legislation before Congress to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
The senator’s record speaks for itself. I wish our senator would speak for himself, rather than trying to steal credit from Colorado legislators and hiding from his constituents.
Laura Packard is a small-business owner, cancer survivor and health care activist in Denver, and a national co-chair of Health Care Voter.