Truth Test: Gardner's healthcare cancellation

KUSA - We've heard a lot of stories about Obamacare with varying degrees of truth to them.

What makes a new political ad in Colorado different is that the story is a personal one delivered directly from a congressman who says the affordable care act hurt him and his family.

9NEWS will hold those who run political ads on our networks accountable for what they say. To learn more about how political ads and fact-checking work on 9NEWS, please read these answers to our common questions and comments.

This ad features Republican Cory Gardner on camera with a simple message against his opponent, Democratic incumbent Mark Udall.

The goal here is to make you aware that Senator Udall made some of the same troubled promises about Obamacare that President Barack Obama made.

CLAIM: "When Mark Udall voted for Obamacare, he promised us if we liked our health care, we could keep it."


That Udall made a similar promise to what we heard from president Obama is true.

In a 2009 interviewwith KXRM-TV in Colorado Springs, the senator said: "If you have an insurance policy you like, doctor or medical facility that provides medical services to you, you'll be able to keep that doctor or that insurance policy."

CLAIM: "I got a letter saying that my family's plan was canceled."

VERDICT: True, but needs context

This is true, but it also needs context, not all of which Gardner is making available.

Obamacare included a provision that cut off members of congress and their staffers from their old health benefits, a way to encourage congress members to buy plans on the exchanges, which many have done.

That's not what happened to Gardner.

He never signed up for the old plans from congress, choosing instead to get his own individual plan to cover his family.

His campaign says this was "to ensure that they were in the same boat as their constituents." That's a debatable premise, since many Coloradans receive employer-sponsored coverage as opposed to purchasing plans on the individual marketplace.

Regardless, 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.

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.

The Gardner campaign also pointed out that Udall has also pointed to his family's coverage in the debate over Obamacare.

Udall and his family are covered under a plan sold on the state exchange. The Udall campaign added that "his base premium is lower than his federal employee insurance plan last year, though he is now forgoing employer contribution."

In other words, Udall is personally paying more than he was before because his employer (Uncle Sam) is no longer paying a share of his premium.

CLAIM: "335,000 Coloradoans had their plans canceled, too. Thousands of families saw their healthcare premiums rise."

VERDICT: Needs context

As we've explained before, almost all of the people who received cancellation notices were eventually able to renew their old plans or were given other options.

They weren't simply left high and dry.

As for increased premiums, it's important to remember that premiums werealready rising before Obamacare.

Because the new law required more coverage in some cases, it did cause bigger increases than usual for some people. Others will see premiums decrease in Colorado.

CLAIM: "More cancellations are on the way. You might have one of those letters in your mailbox right now."


The state insurance commissioner's office reports while there have been about 1,300 more cancellations attributed to the ACA this year, they represent the tail end of plans being scrapped because they don't meet the Obamacare requirements.

In fact, the report states that more people's plans (2,300) have been canceled this year simply because the insurance company is getting out of the individual coverage market.

BOTTOM LINE: 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.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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