In a little-noticed change to the “Health Care” section of his new re-election campaign website, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) has removed any mention of his stance in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.
That’s a major shift in campaign tactics for Gardner, who made killing Obamacare a major theme of his political campaigns, first for the U.S. House in 2010 and then for the U.S. Senate in 2014.
“Cory has been a leader in modernizing our health care system, lowering costs, and improving the quality of care for Coloradans,” states the new website, which was changed sometime since November . “He understands any health care plan needs to cover pre-existing conditions and must be a part of any plan he will support.”
Contrast this to Gardner’s stance on health care when he was running against Democrat Mark Udall in 2014, when not only did Gardner’s campaign website call for repealing the “misguided” ACA, but it was the centerpiece of his entire campaign, his reason for entering the race.
“Throughout his time in Congress, Cory has voiced his strong opposition to Obamacare and the premium increases, thousands of pages in new regulations, and burdensome mandates it creates,” states Gardner’s 2014 campaign website, courtesy of the Way Back Machine. “…He supports legislation that repeals this misguided law and replaces it with a solution that allows the purchase of insurance across state lines, bolsters state high-risk pools to provide for those with pre-existing conditions, and enacts badly needed tort reform to reduce medical costs, among other ideas.”
Health care analysts believe Gardner’s campaign is trying to hide or downplay the senator’s longstanding opposition to the ACA, in light of the fact that the popularity of Obamacare was at a low point when Gardner was elected to the Senate, and it’s at a near high point now.
“Gardner is trying to erase his history of voting to repeal the ACA in 2017 and well before,” said Adam Fox, Director of Strategic Engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “He knows that Coloradans will not look favorably on it, and it damages his chances of re-election. He’s just trying to obscure the way he consistently votes, because it’s politically inconvenient for him.”
Gardner’s office did not return a call asking if he no longer wants to kill Obamacare and/or if he plans to remove references to repealing the ACA from his Senate website.
Gardner’s decision to excise his opposition to Obamacare from his re-election campaign website comes despite the senator’s ongoing opposition to the ACA.
Even his Senate website, which is run separately from his re-election campaign, states that fixing “our healthcare system will require repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with patient-centered solutions, which empower Americans and their doctors.”
In fact, other than the change on his campaign website, there are no signs that Gardner is softening his opposition to the ACA, having repeatedly backed Trump’s administrative actions to undermine the law—most recently when Gardner voted in support of Trump’s order to allow the sale of so-called junk insurance that would skirt the ACA’s guarantee that insurance companies cannot deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
Gardner also appears to support a lawsuit heading toward the U.S. Supreme Court that aims kill Obamacare outright, telling Hill last year when asked about the lawsuit, “That’s the court’s decision. If the Democrats want to stand for an unconstitutional law, I guess that’s their choice.” He’s not part of a Senate resolution that would force Trump to stop supporting the lawsuit.
If the court kills Obamacare, the ACA’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, which Gardner claims to support on his new website, would be eliminated.
These protections would also have been weakened or completely eliminated under Gardner’s multiple votes to kill Obamacare in the House and also in the Senate.
Overall, Gardner’s professed support for a health care plan that “needs to cover pre-existing conditions” doesn’t comport with his record of voting repeatedly for measures that would undermine Obamacare’s existing requirement that pre-existing conditions be covered.
And Gardner has not produced a plan that comes anywhere close to matching Obamacare’s protections.
Gardner’s new campaign website also boasts that the senator “worked with Governor Polis and the Trump Administration to secure a waiver for Colorado to implement a reinsurance program that will reduce health care costs for hardworking Coloradans.”
But, the reinsurance program is part of Obamacare, which Gardner wants to kill. The Republican’s ironic stance led 9News’ Kyle Clark to observe, “Senator Gardner wants to demolish the house, but today he’s claiming credit for helping the homeowners put on an addition.”