DENVER (CBS4) – Complaints and criticism echoed across the telephone lines on Wednesday night as Sen. Cory Gardner held another telephone-only town hall.
Colorado’s junior senator faced what might have been his toughest criticism from his constituents yet in this tele-town hall. Many of the participants in the call were upset with Gardner about health care.
“I’m a little disappointed in the Republicans. You guys didn’t get ‘er done,” one voter said, referring to last month’s explosion of the GOP’s central campaign promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Gardner, a Republican, was a co-author of the Obamacare repeal bills. He initially remained silent about his support of all the measures being floated — some which were estimated to deny health care coverage for millions of Americans — but then voted in favor of all of the bills before they failed in the Republican-led Senate. On Wednesday night, Gardner said the legislation would have helped people.
“I will continue to vote for ideas and directions that will actually get us to that solution,” Gardner said during the call.
Gardner says he now wants bipartisan action on health care reform, but rebuffed calls from clinicians and Democrats to support a single-payer option, calling that socialized medicine.
“It’s not about trying to take something that works and make it so it doesn’t work, it’s about trying to make something that’s not working for some and make it work better for them, including the people who it’s working for right now,” Gardner said.
While some people on the call were upset that their health care premiums remain high due to the ACA, others asked that Gardner not make drastic changes because they feel Obamacare is helping to keep their costs down.
By holding the town hall meeting by phone, Gardner avoided the angry crowds that have greeted some other lawmakers when they hold in-person town halls.
Aside from health care, voters on the call voiced concerns about recent developments in Washington, including President Donald Trump’s behavior, his cabinet, foreign policy and environmental issues.
“I will continue to express my disagreements with President Trump and my agreements with President Trump,” Gardner said.
When asked about why he didn’t hold Wednesday’s town hall in person, Gardner said the town halls didn’t used to be as popular and few people would show up. He said he would look at his future schedule to determine whether a traditional town hall is possible, though it’s not clear how long the Senate recess will be this month. Gardner said he is still meeting with plenty of voters in person at his offices in DC and in Colorado.