Crowds cheer single-payer as Bennet urges activists to ‘hammer’ on AHCA

By Elaine Branjord and Nancy Spillane

Colorado’s Sen. Michael Bennet urged folks at town halls this month to “hammer” senators with calls, emails, and letters to kill the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

Bennet also said any health care bill should cover more people, that Medicare should be able to negotiate drug prices, and that he might support a public option. He has not come out in support of universal health care, and yet attendees at both town halls in Steamboat and Fort Collins cheered for a single-payer plan such as improved Medicare for all.

People are sick of dealing with insurance companies,” Bennet told the  group gathered May 19 at a Fort Collins town hall meeting.

At a table talk earlier in the month that included the Yampa Valley Health Care Action Group in Steamboat Springs, Bennet said, “We need to vastly improve what we have. We need to demand a health care bill that is inclusive

Your calls along with thousands of others must’ve made a difference because as we all now know, we have a special prosecutor.”

Sen. Bennet lamented (along with meeting participants) that the House’s “American Health Care Act” or AHCA is NOT a health care bill. It is a tax cut bill favoring those who earn more than $200k/year.

Coloradans do not want health care ‘choices,’” he said in Steamboat. “They want better coverage and predictability. It would be hard to write a bill less responsive to what Coloradans and the American people want than what was passed in the House.”

The Fort Collins newspaper The Coloradoan also quoted Bennet as opposing Medicaid cuts.

“I’m not happy to be cutting a quarter of the Medicaid program to fund a tax cut for people that can buy medical services without having to go through the brain damage. That makes no sense.”

Sen. Bennet’s key message about a health care bill is that first, the House bill needs to be “killed.” According to him, many republicans pleaded with House Leader Paul Ryan not to pass the bill. He said any new bill needs to include:

  • Covering more people than the Affordable Care Act (ACA) currently does.
  • Not cutting Medicaid.
  • Providing better care than the ACA.
  • Possibly introducing a Public Option.

Other highlights of these two meetings included Sen. Bennet elaborating that Medicare needs to be able to negotiate costs. Bennet also criticized the ACA as not doing enough for some Coloradans but didn’t advocate for gutting it.

People who attended these meetings had a variety of reactions:

  • Even though Sen. Bennet did not openly support single payer health care, at both meetings that proposal drew applause.
  • Sen. Bennet needs education about our mission and awareness of the enthusiasm of his constituents.
  • Some were encouraged by the notion that Sen. Bennet is willing to entertain the idea of a Public Option.

According to The Coloradoan, Bennet sidestepped when asked if he supports a single-payer model. “I support creating access, transparency, reducing costs, increasing predictability. And I don’t think our current system does that very well. I don’t know what the answer is, and I don’t know what Americans imagine for their health care system.’”

With regards to the upcoming Senate health care bill, we need to “HAMMER” (Sen. Bennet’s words) the Senate and House with letters, emails, phone calls, LTEs, etc.

We can and we will do that!

Elaine Branjord reported for the Fort Collins town hall meeting; Nancy Spillane reported for the Steamboat Springs table talk.
“Sen Bennet slams GOP effort as tax cut for richest masquerading as a health care bill,” Fort Collins The Coloradoan, May 19, 2017

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