KUSA— Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) signaled a willingness to repeal the Affordable Care Act without enacting a replacement plan, telling 9NEWS in a Wednesday morning interview that he’d support a plan that put the nation “on a path” to an acceptable replacement for President Obama’s signature healthcare law.
Editors note: You can watch our full interview with Sen. Gardner at the bottom of this article.
Gardner voted in favor of a repeal-and-replace plan in the Senate, which ultimately failed due to lack of Republican support. Looking forward, he would not rule out other options on the table in the Senate, like repealing the ACA in the hopes of replacing it within the following two years.
“What I’m going to vote for is what I believe will put us on a path toward replacing the Affordable Care Act,” Gardner said, adding that he’s reviewing the amendments being proposed, hoping “to put us further down the road of putting something in place of the Affordable Care Act.”
His answers on this point Wednesday morning contrast with what he said earlier this month on conservative radio station KNUS, in which Gardner expressed a preference to replace the healthcare law with a new one during its repeal—suggesting that such a plan could lead to unintended problems.
“I think that we ought to move forward with an idea now, and put a solution forward to the American people,” Gardner said in that interview on July 5. “I think that if you repeal it now, with nothing in its place, what happens if you don’t find that replacement? What happens if you don’t reach that agreement?”
Now that the Senate is in the midst of debating several different proposals, Gardner seemed less concerned with replacing the healthcare law at a later time.
Asked by 9NEWS directly if he would vote for a straight up repeal without a replacement ready, Gardner was noncommittal.
9NEWS: “You’ve said on the record before that it’s not your preference to do a repeal without a replacement at this time. But if push came to shove and that was the way to get it done, would you go sown that path?”GARDNER: “We’ll see. I think I’m going to support whatever it is that actually gets us closer to a repeal and replace. I want to make sure that whatever it is that we pass actually leads us to a path of putting something else that can actually work to reduce costs and make it easier for the people of Colorado.”
Gardner emphasized a desire to stabilize the individual insurance market and lower costs, along with creating what he considers to be a more “sustainable” model for Medicaid recipients.
However, Gardner would not commit to preserving Colorado’s expanded Medicaid program, which offers government health care to more low-income people through federal funding dedicated by the ACA.
He envisioned a system in which states could help cover Medicaid recipients, “perhaps partnering with a private insurer that will actually result in better care because they will have access to more doctors.”
WATCH: Most interesting part of Gardner interview is what he didn't say
When 9NEWS asked if there were any deal breakers— parts of a healthcare proposal that would earn a “no” vote from him— Gardner did not list any.
Asked about Sen. John McCain’s (R-Arizona) criticism of the process and the lack of hearings on healthcare legislation, Gardner said that “I wish we had public hearings, that we had more time. I was glad when we got more time to have this debate.”
This was Gardner’s first interview with 9NEWS in nearly two months, despite numerous requests to speak on the issue. His critics are upset that he hasn’t held a town hall event where members of the public can engage the senator in Q&A.
Gardner defends his efforts to reach out to people on healthcare by pointing out that he’s met with numerous different groups on the issue and that he’s held a tele-town hall.
Pressed three times as to whether he would hold any sort of town hall during the upcoming August recess, Gardner eventually quipped, “I’ve answered your question.”