Gard­ner grilled on health care

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Jesse Paul

Cory Gard­ner faced sev­eral ques­tions about health care — and about his votes last week to un­wind the Af­ford­able Care Act — dur­ing a tele­phone town hall that drew about 6,000 peo­ple Wed­nes­day night, in­clud­ing a woman who ac­cused the GOP se­na­tor of “vot­ing against your con­stituents” and a man who said he was dis­ap­pointed in Repub­li­cans.

Gard­ner de­fended him­self by say­ing that the Af­ford­able Care Act, of­ten called Oba­macare, has worked for some and failed oth­ers and that he wants to en­sure the parts that func­tion re­main while fix­ing as­pects of the law that have left peo­ple fac­ing high costs.

“I think we can do bet­ter,” he said dur­ing the hour-long event. “I’m go­ing to con­tinue to work to re­pair the dam­age of Oba­macare. … I un­der­stand your frus­tra­tion and dis­ap­point­ment.”

The town hall comes in the week af­ter Gard­ner cast votes in fa­vor of every ma­jor Repub­li­can pro­posal to undo the Af­ford­able Care Act from re­peal-and-re­place to re­peal-and-de­lay. The Se­nate’s GOP lead­er­ship was un­able to get leg­is­la­tion moved through, how­ever, and Gard­ner’s sup­port for the ef­forts to dis­man­tle Oba­macare are cer­tain to be­come fod­der for lib­eral and Demo­cratic ads.

Of the 16 ques­tions the se­na­tor was asked Wed­nes­day night, at least five dealt cen­trally with the Af­ford­able Care Act. Sev­eral of those were crit­i­cal of Gard­ner’s votes.

“I’m a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed in the Repub­li­cans,” said John from north­east Colorado, who com­plained onethird of his in­come is go­ing to pay for his health in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums. “You guys couldn’t get (it) done.”

“There is no easy thing to do when it comes to health care,” Gard­ner said. “That’s why we have to get it right.”

Other ques­tions cen­tered on Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his ad­min­is­tra­tion. One woman from Wol­cott said she thought In­te­rior Sec­re­tary Ryan Zinke and En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency Ad­min­is­tra­tor Scott Pruitt were ru­in­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, while an­other from Gun­ni­son said of Trump, “We have a rag­ing, nar­cis­sis­tic psy­chopath who is go­ing to get us all killed.”

“I will con­tinue to ex­press my dis­agree­ments with Pres­i­dent Trump and my agree­ments with Pres­i­dent Trump,” Gard­ner said, also de­fend­ing Pruitt and Zinke. “I’ll ul­ti­mately do what I be­lieve is right for the peo­ple of Colorado”

Gard­ner has come un­der fire from lib­eral ac­tivists since Trump’s elec­tion for not hold­ing in-per­son town halls with con­stituents. He has held other tele­phone town halls — in­clud­ing one that drew about 10,000 peo­ple in March — and met with Coloradans in smaller set­tings.

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