U.S. Representative Cory Gardner on Monday launched another campaign ad in his bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Udall, this one centered on the health insurance policy Gardner bought that he said was canceled last year for not meeting the minimum consumer protection standards established by the Affordable Care Act.
“When Mark Udall voted for Obamacare, he promised us if we liked our health care plan, we could keep it,” says Gardner in the ad. “Well you know how that worked out. I got a letter saying my family’s plan was cancelled. 335,000 Coloradans had their plans cancelled too. Thousands of families saw their healthcare premiums rise. More cancellations are on the way.”
Gardner, who was first elected to Congress in 2010 on the Tea Party wave, has made outspoken opposition to Obamacare his political trademark. He has called it a failure and an overreach and he wrote op-eds and appeared on national television to speak about his canceled policy, which he still cites as evidence that Obamacare was characterized by broken promises and that it would limit consumer choice. In a heated House hearing last fall, Gardner made headlines for his aggressive questioning of U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius over the law and for requesting that she exempt his Colorado congressional district from its provisions.
The Udall campaign responded to the Gardner ad with a release, arguing that it “underscores [the congressman’s] long fight to go back to a broken healthcare system that put insurance companies in charge of Coloradans’ care.”
“Congressman Gardner has voted 51 times to go back to a time when insurance companies could jack up your rates, cut your coverage, pocket your cash and then drop you if you got sick,” Udall campaign spokesperson Kristin Lynch said. “Just like women’s health and immigration, Gardner’s views on health care are backwards and wrong.”
The main goal of Obamacare has been to provide more people with health coverage — and the law has succeeded in achieving that goal in Colorado.
Gallup last week released national poll results that ranked Colorado among the most successful states at expanding the number of residents with health coverage under Obamacare.
Mark Harden, news director at the Denver Business Journal, summarized the Gallup findings and included state political context, as if he anticipated the arrival of Gardner’s new ad.
“Colorado ranks fifth among the states for the biggest reduction in the rate of residents lacking health coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act,” he wrote. “The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index report says 17 percent of Colorado’s population lacked health insurance in 2013, and that percentage has now dropped to 11 percent, a 6 percentage point drop.”
The news hasn’t been so good for states that have adopted the Gardner line and opposed the implementation of Obamacare, mainly by blocking the establishment of new Obamacare state insurance marketplaces and refusing to take advantage of the lower-income Medicaid eligibility expansion offered by the law.
States like Kansas run by Republican majorities that have resisted the law have seen rates of the uninsured only slowly dip or continue to climb. Where the number of uninsured Colorado residents has dropped by 6.0 percent, the number of uninsured in Kansas, according to Gallup, has risen by 5.1 percent.
More context from Harden:[blockquote] Republicans and others opposed to Obamacare have focused on cases where already-insured Americans have not been able to renew their existing policies under the terms they wanted or had to pay more for them.
“Thousands of Americans are reeling from the negative effects of Obamacare,” U.S. Rep.Cory Gardner, a Republican running to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, said in a campaign statement last month.
Nevertheless, the percentage of Americans lacking health coverage has declined from a peak of 18 percent in the third quarter of 2013 to 13.4 percent in the second quarter of this year, the lowest quarterly rate in more than six years, Gallup said…
In Colorado, the state insurance exchange, called Connect for Health Colorado, was established by the state Legislature with bipartisan support. To date, more than 141,000 Coloradans have purchased private insurance through the exchange, and roughly 100,000 of those enrollees received tax credits through the exchange to make insurance cheaper, the exchange says.
Under Obamacare, the federal government is reimbursing states for 100 percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid eligibility through 2016, and 90 percent or more after that. Even so, nearly half of the states have opted not to expand the program, often because of overall political opposition by state leaders to the federal health-care law. [/blockquote]
Obamacare remains a fraught political topic. It has been targeted by well-funded and committed opposition from the moment it was introduced and it remains unpopular generally with voters, even though many of its provisions have been well received. Gallup reported in May that 51 percent of Americans view the law unfavorably and 43 percent give it positive marks.