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Opinion: Health care is a number one issue for Colorado voters: Gardner needs to protect their care

In 2017, Republicans led an anti-health care crusade in Congress, but their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed for a reason: people depend on the ACA for quality, affordable health care. Republicans, however, continue advancing a radical anti-health care agenda.

After the Affordable Care Act’s failed repeal in Congress, Republicans turned their focus to the courts. In February 2018, 18 GOP state attorneys general and two governors joined Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a lawsuit designed to dismantle the ACA.

Last December, a federal judge in the northern district of Texas sided with the Republican attorneys general, ruling that the ACA is unconstitutional and must be overturned.

Katie Farnan

If this ruling stands, the law’s most popular provisions, like protections for pre-existing conditions, bans on annual and lifetime caps and limits on out-of-pocket costs will be gone. Overnight, families in Colorado could lose access to the care they depend on. In an act of sabotage, the Trump administration has refused to defend the ACA against this legal challenge. Unfortunately, one of the officials behind this decision, Chad Readler, is just one step away from a seat on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

While serving as the Principal Deputy and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, Readler filed the Trump administration’s brief in the Texas v. United States lawsuit arguing that because Republicans repealed the individual mandate, the ACA is now unconstitutional and should be eliminated. Chad Readler represents a radical anti-health care agenda.

This ruling has put the full weight of the Department of Justice behind the partisan effort to repeal the ACA, and put Coloradans and millions of Americans’ health care in jeopardy.

The same day of the ruling, Trump nominated Readler for a seat on the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. After clearing the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote, Readler now awaits a vote before the full Senate.

The only thing that stands between him and a federal judgeship is the courage of Republican senators who care about their constituents’ health care.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Voters sent a clear message to lawmakers in 2018: Protecting health care is a top priority. Health care defined the 2018 midterms. National exit polls showed health care was voters’ number-one issue by far, and dozens of Republicans who voted to repeal the ACA were held to account. Still, many remain hellbent on taking health care away from millions of Americans.

It’s not as though Sen. Cory Gardner has no choice but to stand idly by as Republicans continue their attacks. In fact, Gardner could act now to protect our health care.

House Democrats have introduced a resolution that would allow the House legal counsel to do the Trump administration’s job and defend the Affordable Care Act in court. Gardner could sign on to this resolution, and bring it to the Senate floor.

Gardner can also demonstrate his commitment to Coloradans’ health care by voting no on Chad Readler’s nomination to the Sixth Circuit. Readler is a threat to health care in our state, and a vote to confirm Readler is a vote against health care, and against the most vulnerable in Colorado.

Voters demanded a Congress that would work to protect and expand access to health care. Sen. Cory Gardner must honor his commitment to Coloradans and protect our care.

Katie Farnan is lead organizer with the grassroots group Indivisible Front Range Resistance. Twitter: @indivisiblefrr


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