Today’s Denver Post features a long story about Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) and his utterances on healthcare reform legislation in the Senate. The story, written by the Post’s Washington Bureau reporter, Mark Matthews, is basically just a vessel for Gardner to recite worthless platitudes — some more nonsensical than others – while generally treating the Yuma Senator with kid gloves. Let’s take a look.
Early in the story, Gardner fires off a bunch of nonsense about finding “something that can pass” and the need to “find a solution…that reduces the cost of care and increases the quality of care.” Of course, the House healthcare bill that passed earlier this month does absolutely none of these things; if Gardner has an explanation for these policy disparities, it isn’t included in the story.
The goal of Republican lawmakers is to shift patients, such as those added to Medicaid, to health insurance covered by the private sector. But Gardner said he wants to provide as much time as possible for these Medicaid patients to find new insurance — though he wouldn’t commit to a specific deadline when asked whether the 2020 date in the House bill was appropriate.
“We need to have a glide path that works for the states,” Gardner said.
Uh…what? Gardner supported gutting Medicaid when he was in the House of Representatives, but earlier this year he signed onto a letter with a handful of other Republican Senators in which he expressed concern that Trumpcare does not effectively protect the Medicaid expansion population (Mark Matthews even wrote a story about it for the Post). But instead of probing this question further, the Post just goes with a quote about a “glide path.”
…Gardner has said he likes how the Affordable Care Act allows children to remain on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26 and also protections for patients with pre-existing conditions; a shield the House bill would lower by allowing states to get a waiver from that requirement for the individual market.
“We need to make sure the people with pre-existing conditions continue to have coverage and continue to have access to affordable coverage,” Gardner said…
…But make no mistake. Gardner wants to repeal the 2010 health care law — including its fines on citizens who don’t buy insurance and penalties on large businesses that don’t provide coverage.
Gardner says here that he wants to protect pre-existing conditions and preserve the idea that children can remain on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26. If those benefits sound familiar, it’s because they already exist under Obamacare. “But make no mistake,” Gardner wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act!
Let’s move on…
How the Senate address health care could have long-range political repercussions for Gardner, who faces voters again in 2020.
For months, Gardner has been the target of liberal activists in Colorado who are angry about his push to repeal the Affordable Care Act. There’s been a steady presence of protesters at Gardner’s office in Denver, and health care was a major sticking point for activists who gathered earlier this year at a pseudo town hall meeting — complete with a cutout of the Colorado lawmaker.
Here the Post makes it a point to remind readers that outside groups staged a town-hall event with a cardboard cutout of Gardner – yet provides zero context as to why this would have occurred. There is literally no mention here of the fact that Gardner hasn’t held a town hall meeting with constituents in more than a year. That seems relevant, no?
The House was criticized for voting on its plan before getting a price tag from the Congressional Budget Office; Gardner said it was important but didn’t commit entirely to getting a CBO score before a vote.
“Obviously we want to turn it around quickly, and there are going to be other scores out there that will show us what the bill will do and it’s important to not just look at the CBO score. There will be other experts out there and other analysts out there will show their opinions as well,” he said.
This is one of the stranger parts of today’s story. Gardner apparently “won’t commit entirely to getting a CBO score before a vote,” but barring parliamentary rule changes, this isn’t a point of argument. As the Washington Post explained on May 4:
…members of the House voted on their bill before they received a score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which measures how much the legislation would cost and how many people stand to lose coverage under it. Senate budget rules require a CBO score that proves the legislation will not increase the deficit after 10 years. The Senate parliamentarian can’t even start reviewing the AHCA without a score from the CBO, which is expected to take several weeks. [Pols emphasis]
Gardner obviously doesn’t think much of the CBO, which is a position he’s elaborated on in the past. The CBO is expected to present an analysis of Trumpcare 2.0 on Wednesday, and if the Senate is going to base its health care legislation on the House version, a CBO score is required by rule. This would be another good place in the story to elaborate on a conflicting statement from Gardner. Instead, we get this:
No matter what happens, however, health care is likely to remain at the forefront of issues for Gardner and his constituents.
Wow. People sure are interested in health care policy!
Senator Cory Gardner is going to play a significant role in crafting health care legislation in the U.S. Senate, but he doesn’t talk to his constituents and generally tries to avoid talking about the issue publicly – all of which calls for reporters to seek out serious answers. Instead, we get this worthless interview from the Post in which Gardner just talks in vague generalities.
Look, the point of this blog post isn’t to trash the Post or a specific reporter/editor. What we’re saying, really, is that this kind of story has no point. You’re not wrong to expect more from Colorado’s newspaper of record.