WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner on Wednesday did not give a firm “yes” or “no” when asked about his potential support for the GOP’s latest proposal to unwind the Affordable Care Act.
“I’m trying to get some more information on it,” Gardner said during a brief hallway interview outside a confirmation hearing for Colorado jurist Allison Eid. “(We are) looking into the numbers. We don’t have the numbers that we think we need to make a decision.”
Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana have presented a new approach to repeal the ACA — also known as Obamacare — that calls for undoing the Obama-era law’s individual insurance mandate. It would also give states block grants and thus broader authority on how to spend money to address their health care needs.
— Mark K Matthews (@mkmatthews) September 20, 2017
Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, made similar comments before his votes this summer on every other major GOP health care bill attempting to undo Obamacare that came before the U.S. Senate. He supported all of those pieces of legislation.
The Graham-Cassidy proposal, as it has come to be known, is seen as the GOP’s last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare. The Associated Press reports that Republican Senate leaders are urgently searching for votes in support of the effort, which much of the focus centralizing on U.S. Sen. John McCain, of Arizona.
When asked about what specific information he would need to make a decision on Graham-Cassidy, Gardner said, “just additional information.”
“I’m confident that Washington isn’t the only place that has the answers – that we can look to the states for solutions,” Gardner said. “I have great confidence in the people of Colorado to come up with ideas as well.”
The legislation would end Medicaid expansion and Obamacare insurance-purchasing subsidies, as well as capping the federal government’s contribution to traditional Medicaid.
A report from the left-leaning Center on Budget Policy and Priorities found that Graham-Cassidy would shift money from states that expanded Medicaid to those that didn’t. For instance, the report concluded that Colorado, in 2026, would receive $823 million less in federal health care funding than under current law.
Gardner’s Democratic counterpart, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, has come out strongly against the Graham-Cassidy proposal — echoing much of the Senate’s Democratic caucus.
“I can’t decide whether this is Groundhog Day or the definition of insanity: Every attempt is worse than the last,” he said in a written statement Tuesday. “This latest version cuts nearly $1 billion in funding to Colorado, sets up a nonsensical cliff in coverage and puts patient protections at risk. The bipartisan process in our committee was making progress. Why would we abandon it now? This is exactly why Coloradans have lost so much faith in Washington.”
The AP reports that, if the bill does pass, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has committed to pushing it through the House as is, and straight to President Donald Trump’s desk.