CBS4’s Shaun Boyd aired an interview with Sen. Cory Gardner last night, in which close observers of the debate over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act will detect an important new set of talking points from Gardner that marks a major shift in his public position.
A shift away from protecting patients covered by the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, who Gardner had paid lip service to ensuring wouldn’t be hurt:
Gardner talked with CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd on Wednesday about the Republican version of the health care bill, which is expected to be released to the public on Thursday…
One of the biggest criticism of the Republican health care bill is that it will cause 22 million people to lose insurance, many of them included in the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.
Gardner is part of the main working group on Medicaid reform and says his goal is to save Medicaid for those who need it most.
“If we do nothing, if we let the status quo continue, then I’m worried that that safety net, the important safety net is going to be crowded out. It’s going to be crowded out by other programs, it’s going to be crowded out by a fight for scarce resources- tax dollars- and it’s going to be crowded out by people who are newly eligible to Medicaid: able-bodied adults without children, that’s what the expansion under Obamacare created. I’m worried that those who truly need help the most are going to find it difficult to compete for resources need. That’s why have to make sure Medicaid is sustainable,” said Gardner.
This new line about “the people who need it most” being “crowded out” of Medicaid, and making Medicaid “sustainable,” is an obvious attack on the Medicaid expansion population under the Affordable Care Act. And make no mistake, it’s a shift: back in March, Gardner sent a letter along with several politically vulnerable GOP Senators warning that “any poorly implemented or poorly timed change in the current funding structure in Medicaid could result in a reduction in access to life-saving health care services.” As a Senator in a state that expanded Medicaid (and didn’t vote for Trump), Gardner has been under intense pressure to not make changes that would hurt his own constituents–and has responded with platitudes about the importance of keeping people whole during the “transition away from Obamacare.”
Well folks, not anymore! As of now, Gardner is rationalizing the cuts he once claimed to be worried about. Even worse–in the video interview with Gardner you can watch above, at 1:14 Gardner repeats the roundly-discredited claim that “There will be more money going into Medicaid.” That’s a rank falsehood relying on ignorance of how the system works over time as population and inflation grow–and papers over the millions who would never obtain health coverage under the GOP plan that would under the current law.
One thing this latest shift from Gardner cannot be considered, though, is a surprise. As the GOP-controlled Congress has lurched forward this year in their Moby Dick obsession with repealing Obamacare, the years of misinformation and false promises from Gardner to deliver “something better” have stood out in dangerously sharp relief. Gardner’s in-state approval has plummeted below 30%, indicating a severe loss of support from conservatives as well as opposition from the left. Gardner is hopelessly caught between a record he can’t make disappear and a promise voters no longer want him to keep.
What’s Gardner got left? His true colors. Which is what he just showed.