By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4)– Colorado Republican U.S. Senator Cory Gardner says the vote on the Senate floor on Tuesday was a vote to work toward solutions to what he calls a failing health care system.
He says that’s what Coloradans, who are facing double-digit premium increases and fewer insurance options, want.
But demonstrators outside his Denver office want Republicans to drop their efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
“This is a fight for our lives,” said protester Barb Cardell, “and people are willing to put a whole lot on the line.”
Cardell, HIV positive, is among tens of millions of Americans with a pre-existing condition. Her medications alone, she says, cost $10,000 a month. Even if insurance is available under the Republican plan, she worries it won’t be affordable.
“There’s probably some revisions that need to happen, but we need to make sure that the revisions don’t happen at the cost of people living with chronic conditions like mine,” said Cardell.
Gardner says he agrees and promised to fight for that, “That’s why I have said yes, let’s move forward on a debate to find a solution that increases the quality of care and decreases the cost of care.”
He acknowledged that if it takes Sen. John McCain, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, flying back to Washington DC to get Republicans to agree to debate, then getting them to agree on a bill will be a tall order.
“This was a tight vote today and I expect this to continue to be a tight vote. I hope we can attract bi-partisan support. That’s the best way forward,” said Gardner.
While he’s voted in the past to repeal Obamacare, he wouldn’t commit to doing it now without a replacement, saying he wants to see a bill first.
That comes as little comfort to those like Cardell, “We’re out here because it’s the only way to get our voice heard.”
Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet called Tuesday’s vote shameful, saying whether Republicans vote on a repeal and replace bill or a repeal only bill, it will be devastating for Colorado families, hospitals and rural communities.