Diane Mitsch Bush supported Medicare for All before she was against it.
Lauren Boebert doesn’t have a health care plan, only vague goals and a history of criticizing the Affordable Care Act.
With fewer than 80 days to go before the Nov. 3 election, health care has emerged as a top issue in Colorado’s closely watched 3rd Congressional District. It’s not a big surprise, given that both health insurance and health care are particularly expensive and hard to access on the Western Slope and in other parts of the far-flung district.
It is Boebert, a Republican, who has placed the issue front and center.
“Diane Mitsch Bush is a lying socialist who supports socialized medicine,” the narrator in a recent Boebert ad states. “Nobody likes a liar, Diane. Nobody.”
On at least two occasions in 2018, Mitsch Bush, a Democrat, stated on social media that she supported a single-payer, Medicare for All system in which the government provides health care coverage, rather than private insurers. But on July 29, she flatly told KREX in Grand Junction, “I don’t support Medicare for All.”
Boebert has seized on that reversal.
“Can you hear her pollsters and political hacks explaining to her she can’t win on her socialized medicine scheme, so she had better just lie about her position and try to scare people about me?” Boebert wrote in a Pueblo Chieftain op-ed Aug. 8.
Mitsch Bush said in a statement Thursday that she has “never supported the elimination of private insurance” but instead supports “allowing people to buy into Medicare or a public option.” During a 2018 debate, however, she touted a specific piece of legislation — HR 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act — that would “virtually eliminate private medical insurance,” according to an analysis and at least one of the bill’s supporters in Congress.
Boebert’s campaign, meanwhile, says that Chieftain op-ed is the totality of her health care plan at this stage in the race. There are no specifics in the opinion piece, only a series of aspirations: price transparency, protecting people with pre-existing conditions, making health care affordable, increasing access to care.
“I will never vote for legislation that will leave Coloradans without health care coverage,” she wrote.
Protection for people with pre-existing conditions is already required under current law, the decade-old Affordable Care Act. Making health care more affordable, more transparent and more easily accessible are vague goals both political parties strive for with varying success. Nearly all legislation, including the existing Affordable Care Act and Republicans’ ACA repeal efforts, do leave or would leave some Coloradans without health care coverage.
Boebert’s campaign spokeswoman declined to say whether Boebert believes the ACA, a 2010 health care overhaul colloquially known as Obamacare, should be repealed. But Boebert has repeatedly criticized Rep. Scott Tipton, the Cortez Republican she defeated June 30, for failing to repeal the ACA while in Congress.
“You know, we had an opportunity in 2017 to repeal Obamacare and once again my opponent (Tipton) voted no,” Boebert told an online show called “Steel Truth” in May. “He had a chance to put a yes vote to that and he said no and he’s supposed to be a conservative.”
Boebert’s claim was false — Tipton supported the American Health Care Act, a Republican ACA repeal effort, in 2017 — but her remarks make clear that she supports a repeal of Obamacare.
Repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement would leave the 159,338 Coloradans who receive health insurance through the state’s ACA marketplace without coverage, among other disruptions to the health care system.
“My opponent has no plan to make health care more affordable for people in the 3rd (District), and instead she wants to take health care away from hundreds of thousands of people during a national health care and economic crisis,” Mitsch Bush said Thursday. “We can’t let that happen.”
Some of Colorado’s highest rates of uninsured people are in northwest Colorado, along the I-70 corridor and in southwest Colorado — all part of the 3rd District, said Linda Gann, a Montrose-based outreach director with Connect for Health Colorado, which oversees the state’s individual insurance marketplace.
“It’s about two things: cost and access,” Gann said. “Both are a problem out here.”
More people on the Western Slope buy their insurance off the individual marketplace than elsewhere in the state, which is more costly than receiving it through an employer, and insurance rates are generally highest there, according to state health care experts.
“There’s usually just one hospital that’s at all convenient to a town, and that hospital can charge pretty high prices to insurers,” said Joe Hanel , communications director for the nonpartisan Colorado Health Institute.
This content was originally published here.