Sen. Michael Bennet comes out against ColoradoCare

Sen. Michael Bennet comes out against ColoradoCare

 

Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet opposes a universal healthcare ballot measure Colorado voters will consider in November.

“Michael does not think that single payer is the right approach to solving our health care problems, and in particular has concerns about putting a complete overhaul of our health care system, including a massive tax increase, into the State Constitution where it can’t be changed,” Bennet’s campaign spokesman Andrew Zucker told The Colorado Independent.

Bennet’s position on the ColoradoCare ballot measure, which if passed would make Colorado the first state in the nation with universal healthcare, has been unclear for months.

In November, he “brushed aside questions when approached in a Senate hallway by a POLITICO reporter,” when asked about the proposal, saying he was focused on a vote he was taking in the U.S. Senate that day.

That led the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee to tie Bennet to the prospect of Colorado having universal healthcare. The group, which supports efforts by Republicans to win U.S. Senate seats around the country, wrote “Based on his strong endorsement and record of support for a public option, a Bennet-backed single-payer health care plan is no stretch for the imagination.”

Back in Colorado, without finding Bennet’s position on the record, the free-market political group Americans for Prosperity had been canvassing the Denver suburbs earlier this month asking voters whether they were familiar with Bennet and also tying him to the ColoradoCare ballot measure, officially known as Amendment 69. AFP’s script stated the group did not know Bennet’s position on the measure. One activist told a voter Bennet was “for the amendment.”

To unseat Bennet, Republican strategists have been framing him as a far-left candidate. Some grassroots Democrats have griped that he cleaves too closely to the center and has formed a cozy relationship with Colorado’s Republican first-term junior U.S. senator, Cory Gardner. Bennet’s stance against ColoradoCare likely takes away a choice talking point from his opponents.

Americans for Prosperity’s state director, Michael Fields, for instance, said he’d have to update his script for canvassing about the issue.

On the other hand, as Denver conservative commentator Kelly Maher of the group Compass Colorado said in a statement, Bennet, a superdelegate who supports Hillary Clinton, might have to “withstand the wrath of grassroots Democrats who are already upset with him for opposing their choice for president, Bernie Sanders.”

On the presidential campaign trail, Sanders has signaled his support for the ballot measure.

“Colorado,” Sanders told The Independent in October, “could lead the nation in moving toward a system to ensure better health care for more people at less cost.”

Hillary Clinton hasn’t been as clear.

“I know you all here in Colorado have a [health care] initiative this year,” she said at one campaign stop in Colorado before the March 1 caucuses. “States can help lead the way.”

Here in the state, support for ColoradoCare from Colorado’s Democratic governor hasn’t been so warm.

In January, Gov. John Hickenlooper told an influential business group behind closed doors that he couldn’t imagine “there’s any chance” that ColoradoCare would pass, and added that “a couple [of] large health care related companies that are looking at moving their headquarters here” saw the possibility of the measure passing “and they paused.”

His remarks, which were published by the libertarian website CompleteColorado’s Todd Shepherd, who had obtained them via an open records request, came as a surprise to Denver Democratic state Sen. Irene Aguilar, a chief champion of ColoradoCare. She told The Colorado Independent at the time that her understanding was that the governor would remain neutral on the measure.

Aguilar declined to comment about Bennet’s opposition to the universal healthcare proposal, but Owen Perkins, a spokesman for the ColoradoCareYES campaign sent this statement:

It’s unfortunate that the billionaire Koch Brothers are attempting to play Amendment 69 and Senator Bennet off each other for their own personal gain. It’s imperative that basic protections like access to health care are written into the Colorado constitution to put these rights outside of the reach of special interests and the state legislature.

We are proud to offer a citizens’ initiative that saves Coloradans over $4.5 billion a year, we are pleased that over 158,000 Coloradans gave their support and signed the petition to put Amendment 69 on the November ballot, and we are focused on continuing to engage directly with Colorado voters.

Bennet faces a field of five Republican primary challengers, two of whom have already made the June GOP primary ballot.

 

[Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall via Creative Commons on Flickr]

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyHutchins and email him at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

17 Comments

  1. Joseph Rogers on said:

    Dems have been trying to pass universal health care since at least Truman. Why would the Democratic US Senator come out against a generations old Democratic policy goal? Sadly, I believe the only answer is that the Democratic elites, to a lesser extent than the Republican elites but still substantially, have become beholden to their wealthy donors the special interests that pay to set policy in the US

    It is the Democratic wealthy elite that do not support Coloradocare and their money buys acquiescence from Bennet and from the rest of the establishment.

    And like the Republican establishment and their moneyed supporters are finding out this election cycle the American people are getting damn tired of having their public policy set solely by wealthy elites. This election shows by Sanders and Trump’s success that the People are awaking and every politician who believes s/he can take the special interest dollars without electoral pain will find out soon enough, this cycle or the next, that ultimate power lies ultimately with the People.

    Coloradocare designed by Coloradans for Coloradans. It’ll cover every one of us and save us billions. Stick it to Bennet and the special interests and check it out at coloradocareyes.co

  2. Shannon on said:

    At this point what difference does it make to have either the Democrats or Republicans in charge? I’m tired of politicians with their taxpayer-funded health care plans which provide excellent health care telling working class and middle class people that they should continue to be victimized by our current system of high premiums and high deductibles. We want single payer!

  3. Hatty on said:

    I support single-payer but the issue i’m seeing in state-wise efforts is that it might not work if implemented only in a few states (Vermont?). In fact i think even private insurance won’t work if only available in a few states and not the whole country. Essentially this has to do with the variation in population numbers across states and the unequal coverage practices across states. We need a federal single-payer:perhaps efforts like this in Colorado will eventually help in getting one…though i’ll be dead by then..

  4. Kenneth Chapin on said:

    Dear Mr. Bennet,
    I am sorry that you have decided to embrace the status quo regarding health care for Coloradans.
    I have suspected that you are a corporate sympathizer and don’t really carte about ordinary people.
    I was considering voting for you and supporting your campaign for re-election. I now think that you are a poor choice, and hope we can find a Progressive candidate to run against you even if it requires a write-in candidate. It is unfortunate that you did not let your position known until after you were nominated by Colorado Democrats.
    Perhaps you should resign and get a lucrative job with a corporation.
    Sincerely,
    A saddened citizen.
    Ken Chapin

  5. Donny Donowitz on said:

    At least we know who this DINO is working for. And it ain’t the people of Colorado.

  6. Henry on said:

    Colorado Care is a terrible bill, it would take several billions of dollars to run it.
    Thank You Senator Bennett for making the correct decision to oppose wasting $Billions of dollars of tax payer money.
    Putting taxpayers in a bigger hole year after year.

  7. Rad on said:

    Dear Senator,
    I am so sorry that you are against Coloradans being universally covered and receiving cheaper coverage. That’s ok, we will vote for someone who isn’t. And in the meantime, flail away- this is why this initiative is citizen-led.
    Oh, and please stop sending emails asking for donations now that it is clear we are not on the same page.

  8. Greg Novlan on said:

    These are big time campaign donors that are going to be affected by ColoradoCare. I would expect few politicians to support it. We should pay attention to the ones who do. They are the people’s politicians. After all, it was a citizens initiative. The politicians who are against it are corporate politicians. They don’t work for us, we are too small and our pockets too shallow.

    There are two major arguments against ColoradoCare.
    First, the government doesn’t do anything right.
    Second, the tax will almost equal the entire Colorado budget.
    Third they want to preserve free market healthcare

    Let’s look at the first one. The government doesn’t do anything good. Wall street caused the 2008 financial collapse. Our healthcare is tied to CEO bonuses, stock options, and profit return on investment. The same type of players in the 2008 worldwide financial collapse. Does that sound like healthy healthcare? If yes I got some healthcare credit default swaps to sell ya. The government brought us out of that debacle.

    Second, the tax will almost equal the entire Colorado budget. The ColoradoCare tax does not go toward the Colorado budget or general fund. The ColoradoCare tax is not a general tax and will not be part of the Colorado general fund. Lawmakers do not manage it as they do the general fund. It is specified tax set aside for healthcare, nothing else.It does not go into the general fund. It is not a general tax. It is not managed by politics or politicians.

    Third they want to preserve a free market.
    Let’s be clear that in a free-market people know the price as it is disclosed, people shop, and that brings down the price.
    For free markets to work price must be disclosed prior to service otherwise competition is non-existent therefore lower prices are non-existent.
    I cannot think of a single example of a free market system where price is not disclosed, choices are limited, no one shops, billing is complex, charge masters determine price by some magical formula that makes a latex glove 20 bucks, and lacking competitive price disclosure prices far exceed inflation. Free-market? Really?
    Healthcare is closer to market hocus pocus, watch me pull a medical bill out of a hat. It is not a free market where prices are known and competition exists. There is not competition. How can there be?
    Let’s get real about what a free market is. I am not sure what magic they used to create the healthcare market but it is not a free-market by any stretch of the imagination. That is why it cost so darn much.

  9. dee bee on said:

    I never liked how the Establishment gifted him the seat. I didn’t like how they lined up against Romanoff for him. I said it then and I’ll say it now. Bennet is an insider and he puts the party and it’s donors ahead of Colorado.

  10. SickofDinos on said:

    I’m with dee bee. Bennet is like Hick–a DINO. Find a way to get rid of him without electing a Republiican.

  11. Will Morrison on said:

    It’s amazing to me how every single country in the civilized world can figure out how to afford ACTUAL medical care for their citizens EXCEPT for the “greatest country in the world”. How does THAT happen? Because the MONEY doesn’t WANT us to be healthy, it doesn’t make enough money on health.

    For the record, the attempt to get this country health care has been going on for over a hundred years, and it’s been the republicans who have stopped it EVERY time. These people HATE humans FAR more than they love money, and that is saying something.

    Bennet is good on some things, but on the things that matter to our lives, he’s absent. We can and SHOULD do better than this. We are DYING out here, and this fool thinks that we can just wait for the rich to trickle down on us. I’m SICK of waiting to the rich to do anything but be sociopathic. I knew back when Reagan started this nonsense that it WAS nonsense, and now we’re stuck voting for LOSERS who think this is how things are supposed to be.

    It’s time for this jerk to LEAVE and let someone who actually has a clue of what WE need to do the job. NO MORE DAMNED MILLIONAIRES! THEY ARE THE PROBLEM, NOT THE SOLUTION! Always, and forever. This SOB is thinking about his wallet NOT YOUR LIFE. Time for him to LEAVE!

  12. Buck Ofama on said:

    Glad to see Bennett finally do something right for a change. I and many other small business owners that I know will leave the state and take jobs with us if this passes.

  13. Death2Leftists on said:

    I’m glad to see Bennett finally do the right thing. If this passes, I and many other small business owners that I know intend to leave the state … and take our money and jobs with us.

  14. Misty price on said:

    Single payor is a good idea but it has to be done nationally not state by state.

    In addition the people who are advocating this are not answering the questions people post on their website.

    The devil is in the details and until they answer the questions sorting out the details no way I can vote yes

  15. Rich on said:

    In response to Greg Novlan on April 22, 2016 post:
    He stated “Our healthcare is tied to CEO bonuses, stock options, and profit return on investment.” That means when insurance companies fail to provide and sell a good product, the decision makers suffer. When the Affordable Care Act failed by forcing folks to buy high-deductible plans that do them little good, or when the Army failed to build a veterans hospital within budget, none of the decision makers suffer.
    He further stated when referring to doubling of tax, “It is not managed by politics or politicians.” I don’t know what you call these elected board members but “politicians”. What’s even scarier is they are going to create their own government/bureaucracy without the usual balance-of-powers incorporated into the federal and state governments. What assurances do we have that it won’t be worse than the current state government? Finally Mr. Novlan criticizes the lack of free-market in the health care system. Which I tend to agree, but the single payer plan would eliminate the only part of the health care system that’s has competition, where we have individuals and employers seeking out the best plan for the lowest price. Over the years, Anthem Blue Cross preferred provider network (PPO) has controlled my health care provider prices even when I’m still in my deductible and paying the entire bill. It was not unusual to see my bill cut in half due to the PPO contracts.

    Even if you believe in a single-payer system, you need to study the entire language of Amendment 69 to make sure it will get us there cost effectively and with minimal risk before voting for it.

  16. JERRY NEWSOM on said:

    Bennet just lost MY vote! After all our protests trying to keep Dems from passing the ACA w/o any type of Public Option, now they don’t even want us to try & correct any of its drawbacks, such as high deductibles and copays! I’m tired of Dems taking our votes for granted. Bennet is betting that we’ll change our minds when November draws nigh but he may find he’s lost more votes than he’s gained….Republicans weren’t going to vote for him, anyway!!!

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