Democratic lawmakers in Colorado pushing back against GOP's attempt to repeal Obamacare

Jan 18, 2017

Credit 50states.com

As Democratic lawmakers in Colorado push back against the GOP’s attempt to repeal Obamacare, some Coloradans who benefited from it are wondering what it will be replaced with.

As The Denver Post reports, Democrats and like-minded activists have begun a counterattack against Republican lawmakers’ attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The anti-repeal campaign has included several rallies in Colorado, including one Monday when, during a celebration for civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., protestors began heckling U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman because they were upset by his vote Friday that laid the groundwork for a repeal of parts of the ACA.

Last week, health care and labor advocates delivered petitions to U.S. Sen. Cory Gardener’s offices in Denver and Greeley, imploring the Republican to support ACA and on Sunday, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, along with Democratic leaders Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne and House Speaker Crisanta Duran rallied opponents of repeal.

“This is real. This is not manufactured. People are … angry and ready to fight back,” said Ian Silverii, the executive director of ProgressNow Colorado.

Even though it is unlikely to pass Colorado’s Democratic-led House, the Republican-led Senate made a repeal of ACA one of the first bills of the current session – a measure that phases out the state benefits exchange after a one-year grace period, which would force 150,000 people using the state marketplace to purchase insurance on the federal exchange.

Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Parker, said he thinks health care should remain a free market solution, while Senate Democratic Leader Lucia Guzman of Denver said 150,000 people can’t just be chucked “down the drain” because someone wants to dismantle the ACA.

Michael Fields, director of Americans for Prosperity in Colorado, accused Democrats of misguiding people by suggesting the repeal won’t be paired with a replacement.

While any change is expected to come with a transition phase for consumers to find new insurance, repealing the ACA puts pressure on Republicans to find a replacement.

407,000 Coloradoans have insurance through the law’s expansion of Medicaid and Colorado hospitals have seen almost a 50 percent decrease in the cost of “uncompensated care” for the uninsured.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, the talk of repeal and replacement has a lot of those Coloradans - and health care clinics - who have benefited from the ACA concerned about their health care coverage going forward.

Many low-income Coloradans, who were uninsured previous to passage of the ACA, were able to qualify for Medicaid, which also helped Denver Health open the Federico F. Pena Health Center, a clinic that is located in a low-income and Hispanic neighborhood in Denver.

The cut in costs associated with Medicaid expansion helped reduce the number of unpaid bills the health care facility had to cover.

Officials there told CPR that the clinic would survive if Obamacare is repealed but that it would make it more difficult to open similar clinics in other low-income areas.