Gardner Gets Hammered for Hiding Details on Insurance


Rep. Cory Gardner waving his healthcare “cancellation” letter during a Congressional hearing last fall.

Republican Congressman Cory Gardner has been peddling a story about his family's insurance coverage and the horrors caused by Obamacare for some time now — but the opaque nature of his argument is coming under increasing scrutiny from the media.

In Gardner's latest television ad, the GOP Senate candidate again tells the tale of his family's insurance plan being cancelled as part of the Affordable Care Act. But in a new "Truth Test" from 9News reporter Brandon Rittiman, Gardner's campaign fails miserably when pressed for details:

Gardner released his cancellation letter, from Rocky Mountain Health Plans, but took out all the details about his old plan.

The Gardner campaign denied repeated requests for details about the coverage that Gardner and his family had under the plan that was canceled, saying only that it came with a premium of $651.75. [Pols emphasis]

The campaign declined to provide evidence of the previous price or any details about the level of coverage and deductibles under the prior plan.

The cheapest new alternative listed in the cancellation notice was a "bronze" plan listed at a premium of $1246.90.

Even if Gardner's old cheaper plan was meager in its coverage, Gardner would have a legitimate policy argument to make by saying he shouldn't be required to buy a better plan than he had before.

However, if he's going to use his personal healthcare story as part of the political debate, it would be better to have the full context.

Rittiman isn't the first to scratch his head at Gardner's insurance claims, but what is interesting to note in this "Truth Test" is the increasingly aggressive line of questioning leveled at Gardner's campaign — and the consistent refusal to provide requested information. Gardner has repeatedly claimed that hundreds of thousands of Coloradans saw their health care plans cancelled because of Obamacare — a talking point that has long ago been proved false — but reporters are increasingly turning their attention to the rest of the story.

You can read between the lines here as Rittiman concludes his "Truth Test":

Like ads before it, this one references real issues with Obamacare.

But when you get the full story, it doesn't sound as bad as the Gardner campaign would like it to.

As for the congressman's personal story, you should take it with a grain of salt because we don't have all the details. [Pols emphasis]

Remember, folks, that the letter Gardner consistently discusses is actually addressed to his wife — and we only know that because Fox 31 reporter Eli Stokols kept asking him until he revealed the contents. From a Fox 31 story last fall:

Later that same day, Gardner appeared on CNN’s Crossfire and told the exact same story.

Since then, FOX31 Denver has asked Gardner to provide a copy of the letter or to provide additional details about the policies.

Five times.

After our story aired on Good Day Colorado Friday morning, Gardner released a copy of the letter with some information redacted, that he says his family received.

The bottom line here is really quite simple: If Gardner's personal health care sob story is free of holes, as he claims, then why not just turn over the proof to a reporter and end this line of questioning once and for all?

The truth is rarely this complicated.

28 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DawnPatrol says:

    Con Man Gardner is a dishonest, dishonorable slimebucket, and a personal affront to every intelligent voter in Colorado. Time to run this craven empty suit off the political stage, permanently.

    Absolutely despicable.

    • Moderatus says:

      Why does Gardner not deserve privacy?

      After watching Democrats engage in character assassination against anyone who questions Obamacare (this blog is a leading instigator), why should he put himself out there to be attacked? His letter released enough information. His policy was cancelled, and his new plan is over $1200. That's enough for me.

      • Colorado Pols says:

        Don't mix up the timeline here, Moderatus. The reason this is a story is because Cory Gardner wanted it to be a story. He brought it up. He waved the letter in Congress.

        You can't complain that people keep going through a door that you opened yourself.

        • Advocate says:

          Exactly, CP. Like a witness making an admission on the stand that his lawyer says OOPS about, but has to accept the cross examination because his client opened the door. 



      • Progressicat says:

        My car that I bought last year cost me $2,500.  It broke down and I bought another.  The one I bought cost me $35,000.  Clearly those asshole thieves at the car dealership are screwing me.

      • Advocate says:

        I figure if the folks like Gardner who support the Tea Pary agendas want the President of the United States to release his birth certificate, and that information is finally made available, I figure a little pissant like Gardner should fully disclose the information to the public so we can determine if he is a liar or not. 

      • DawnPatrol says:

        "That's enough for me."


        If only you could understand how profoundly telling that statement is….


        A complete dupe.

      • ct says:

        How dare HOW DARE the lefty crazies at Colorado Pols write a blog article on an issue that Rep. Cory Gardner himself brought up and that various of his troll and troll-like supporters think is the key issue to keep going after Sen. Udall on…you know Obamacare.  Or are we supporse to only talk about the other liars spreading bullshit re: the ACA is Koch paid commercials?  WE could always change the subject to personhood.  Does Rep. Gardner remember he 'supports' birth control*** (***FOTF approved if she absolutely must, shameless hussies with their uncontrollable libidos!!!), or will he react to it like a 'trick question' as well, you know like lil Mikey?  

  2. Andrew Carnegie says:

    Actually, I think Gardner is playing this well.

    Hundreds of thousands lost their health plans.

    Did many of them find other insurance?  Yes, and many like Gardner had to pay more money to get their new insurance.

    Don't you think it helps him when you keep talking about Obamacare?  I do.

    Keep up the good work.

    • Curmudgeon says:

      Well, it helps in the sense that is shows Gardner to be a coward and a liar. 

      Of course, to a Kochsucking TeaBagger, this isn't a bad thing, but it is in most people's eyes.  So, let's hope he keeps up with his Moddy/ACHole style of "honesty". 

    • Advocate says:

      Sigh…what you are ignoring, AC, is the fact that every year, for decades, the insurance companies have sent letters of so called cancellation to the customer because it no longer wanted to offer that plan, and then offered alternatives that are typically more expensive and cover less. Where was the outrage from the right on the long standing practice? Oh wait…when it is associated with the ACA, suddenly it is a great conservative-sponsored tragedy. Sigh. As for the numbers that Gardner claims in this deceptive ad, they have been completely debunked…


      And I gotta ask…Cory gets his own health insurance through Congress, yes? Why isn't his family on that plan? 

    • BlueCat says:

      Gardner only claims he has to pay twice as much but refuses to reveal what he was paying before. Very hard to believe he was paying only 651.75 for any kind of decent coverage on a privately purchased plan (meaning one not provided by an employer paying part of the cost) for a family of four. That's less than insurance I had before ACA just for me cost and I'm very healthy and it was high deductible high co-pay. 

      If he really is paying 1246.90 for a plan now, especially assuming he makes too much to qualify for a subsidy, it's hard to see how he could have had a better plan, not provided by an employer paying part of the cost, for the entire family before.


      He's the one making that claim and he has no right to expect anyone to take his word for it without providing details of his old insurance.  As far as privacy, you can't have it both ways… not too private for a public campaign ad claim but too private to back it up. Also he chose to buy his own insurance (or have his wife do so for the family) rather than using his congress member option.

      • MichaelBowman says:

        He and has industry-funded spouse each make a six-figure salary ("his" coming from "us") They ARE the 1% -ers in the district he serves.  I'm guessing the percentage of their income his family pays for gold-plated health are is far below the other 99% of the citizens he purports to represent. 

  3. mamajama55 says:

    Also, Gardner reportedly refused the sweet deal available to Congress members and staff  – the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, which after the ACA passed, was available on the DC Health LInk exchange.  The linked chart  gives an indication of the nice rates available to Federal employees through this plan.

    The rates seem to be much less expensive than what Gardner was complaining about. A 40 year old man (Gardner's age) would pay $394.69 per month premium on a Gold Kaiser plan.  It doesn't say what the costs would be to insure his family, but surely not $1200/month.

    Why did he refuse to enroll in the DC health exchange? Probably just politics. He wanted to have something to complain about.  Talking points first, facts later, if at all.


  4. DawnPatrol says:

    Yeah Cory, you're playing this so well. Do keep up the good work. The more Pinocchios the better!


    The Colorado Democratic Party

  5. Republican 36 says:

    Congressman Gardner Opens Up More Credibility Problems for Himself

    Mr. Gardner opened his campaign by trying simultaneously to be both for the Personhood Amendment and against it.

    Now he has opened up a new can of worms for himself and undermined his credibility even more. He wants us to believe that his family healthcare policy was cancelled and a replacement under the new healthcare law would cost twice as much as his old one but he won't disclose what the scope of his coverage was under the previous policy. Why doesn't he want us to know that so we can judge for ourselves if he has his facts straight. This leads to the other obvious question: What is Mr. Gardner hiding? If he is telling us the truth then why can't he reveal all the facts that supposedly supports his position.

    Or could it be, that his previous healthcare plan covered contraception during the period he supported outlawing a woman's right to obtain a prescription from her doctor for contraceptives? If so, then why did he have such a plan for his family because he wants to outlaw contraceptives or at least he did so until March 21, 2014 and certainly his previous policy was in effect when he wanted to outlaw contraceptives? And, if his previous plan covered contraceptives, did his family obtain cotnraceptives through that policy? If they did, how can he justify the hypocrisy of, on the one hand, obtaining and using contraceptives for his family, while on the other, trying to outlaw it for every other woman in Colorado? Its time he answered all of these questions. The voters of Colorado have the right to demand Mr. Gardner answer thes questions so we can judge if Mr. Gardner has been trying to fool us.

    If he won't answer these questions, then there is only one conclusion: He is hiding something from us and that means we can't trust him.  And again, these are all self-inflicted political wounds.

  6. Old Time Dem says:

    The "Truth Test" quotes Udall from a September 2009 television interview "promising" that existing policies could be retained.  He also, in the same interview, "promised" a public option.  The House did not vote on what would become the Affordable Care Act until November 2009. The Senate did not hold a vote until December 2010–more than a year after Udall's interview.

    Gardner's claims in his ad that "When Mark Udall voted for Obamacare, he promised us if we liked our health care, we could keep it."  The supposed "promise" was–like his "promise" regarding a public option–a negotiatiing position.  Further, it was more than a year after the interview before the Senate voted on a health care reform proposal, so Gardner's ad falsely conflates Udall's vote with the interview.

    VERDICT:  Gardner's claim is false.

    • BlueCat says:

      Still, the whole promise thing was very unfortunate and I blame Obama for that. He kept saying it long after 2010. To promise anything on behalf of the private insurance industry was a mistake. Nobody ever had a guarantee that they could keep their plan if they liked it. Insurers could always cancel plans and change the terms. It just gave ammunition to the opponents and I can't really blame them for using it. When your opponent hands you something like that on a silver platter you'd be an idiot not to use it. 

      The fault really lies with the stupid promise in the first place and the refusal of Obama and the Dems to try to fix it by admitting the error and mounting an aggressive campaign to explain what they should have said in the first place. They should have stressed that you could no longer be kicked off your plan for being too sick. That you would be able to get affordable insurance if you lost your insurance in a lay off and had a pre-existing condition. That  if you had a child born with severe disability that child would be insurable. That the super cheap plans weren't real insurance at all and leave you covering all but a tiny portion of your own expenses. That  if you had a plan through your employer the law wouldn't force you to give it up but your boss and insurer wouldn't be prevented by the law to make changes or drop plans.  Their ability to do that would remain the same. But if that happened (and many people had that happen to them long before ACA) you could get a plan via the exchange, even if you had a pre-existing condition. 

      Instead, for years they avoided the whole thing hoping that by not talking about ACA they could get it to fade away and get people to focus on other issues. Once again, Rs didn't waste the opportunity they were handed to fill that vacuum with misinformation and point out that, if ACA was so great why were Dems hiding from it? Why indeed? All that hiding was just as stupid as the stupid promise.

      The roll out isn't the only thing that was bungled. ACA is a lot less than the true universal single payer we need but it's a lot better than the days when a serious illness could mean losing your insurance and going bankrupt. Many more people can afford coverage. It's working much better in all the states that did their own exchanges and expanded medicaid as they were urged to do,  But the soundbites are out there and it's Obama's and the Dem pols own fault that they are and that they let the Republican lies take hold, fester and do so much damage for so long.

      Dems are still having trouble with the whole backbone thing, still too cowed by conservatives who aren't cowed at all. They need to start learning that lesson.


      • BlueCat says:

        I didn't do a thing to get that text change. 

      • Old Time Dem says:

        I agree with most of what you are saying, but Gardner's ad targets only Udall's supposed "promise."  Thus, the fact that Obama might have continued to make the "promise" is not relevant to the falsehood repeated in Gardner's ad.

        More specifically, the "promise" was, in my opinion, correct, so long as it is understood to mean, "you will be able to keep your existing coverage if your insurance company wants to keep offering it."  That proviso is certainly implied, since it is not reasonable to think that anyone has a right to continue exactly the same coverage in perpetuity.


        • BlueCat says:

          Your view of the promise is a reasonable one but unfortunately it was just "you'll get to keep it" with no qualifiers and that opened the door for a very successful rightie attack. 

          The point of the promise was that people wouldn't be forced to give up insurance they had and liked by the government through this legislation and that's what they should have promised. That would have been a promise within their control to keep. The only way they could have promised that you'd be OK regardless would have been to offer a public option as an alternative to depending on your friendly sharks in the health insurance biz but that's another discussion.

          The promise they did make was not one that they had the power to keepApparently they didn't trust the public to understand anything beyond the simplest soundbite statement yet they expected that same public to understand that simple soundbite in the way you suggest.

          If they had instead tried trusting the public to understand a slightly more detailed, realistic but certainly not overly complicated explanation in the first place they would have avoided handing the Rs The Lie on a silver platter. I mean we're talking about insurance companies whose business model has always been based on finding ways to weasel out of paying promised benefits to people who have paid them faithfully and provided hefty profits to them for years.  Would you make a promise that only they, not you, were in a position to keep?  And expect it not to blow up in your face? 

      • Davie says:

        BC — let me help Moddy and AChole reply to your explanation:

        1.  I haven't lost my employer-based insurance

        2.  I haven't been cancelled by my insurance company

        3.  I haven't lost my job

        4.  I don't have uninsurable conditions

        5.  None of my family have uninsurable conditions

        6.  I've never worried about medical bills bankrupting me

        7.  Why should I give a crap about anyone else that is stupid enough to have any of the above happen to them?  

        8. It's their fault and I don't want to take the risk of having a dime of my tax dollars going towards anyone else's benefits but my own


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