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Fact Check: Glenn’s statements about Bennet and health care check out

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Denver Post file photo

Denver Post file photo

Denver Post file photo

Hannah Mullaney, CU News Corps

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In August, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn met with El Paso County Commissioners to pass a resolution opposing Amendment 69. In a press release put out later that day by the Committee to Elect Darryl Glenn, the former Marine states:

  • “Let’s be clear: Michael Bennet voted for Obamacare, which led to thousands of Coloradans losing their health care providers, but with Coloradans reeling from the devastating effects of Obamacare, he now opposes Amendment 69.”

Glenn’s statement is mostly true, though it conflates Obamacare — officially the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — and Amendment 69 as being the same type of program.

“Let’s be clear: Michael Bennet voted for Obamacare…”

This statement is true. Bennet did vote for the Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as Obamacare. In 2010, he also took a lead role in pressuring Democratic leaders to move a public health-insurance option through the budget reconciliation process.

Bennet was first appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2009 and was elected for the seat in 2010.

Obamacare, as enacted and as Bennet voted for, is a universal health insurance program in which the government allows private insurers to compete for customers who are mandated to purchase insurance or pay a fine. In addition, before the 2010 vote, Bennet also consistently supported a public option, a proposal to create a government-run agency that would compete with private health insurance companies. The public option never became a part of the Affordable Care Act.

Bennet’s unwavering support for a public option came at a time when he faced skepticism during the 2010 primaries. At the time, Mike Cerbo, executive director with the Colorado AFL-CIO, was quoted saying that Bennet’s push for the public option “resonates very well with the progressive community” and that Bennet stood to gain politically from his latest efforts.

Bennet’s aides stressed that his actions in Congress were not connected to his primary campaign, arguing that he had been consistent in his reproach as a “reformer” and that his recent focus on certain issues appealed to the broader electorate. His critics called his approach an act of “political reinvention” — appealing to liberal activists whose support he needed in the primaries.

He appeared steadfast in his decision, voting no on HB-15-3762, a budget reconciliation measure that would have repealed portions of the Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and the medical device excise tax.

“…which led to thousands of Coloradans losing their health care providers…”

This statement is also true. More than 92,000 Coloradans will have to replace their current Obamacare health care coverage in 2017 because four leading insurance companies will scale back or eliminate their individual plans. A number of companies are also seeking significant premium increases.

According to information from the Colorado Division of Insurance, insurance holders with individual plans through Anthem, UnitedHealthCare, Humana and Rocky Mountain Health Plans will need to find new coverage for 2017.

UnitedHealthCare and Humana Insurance will not offer individual plans in 2017, affecting nearly 20,000 consumers in Colorado (UnitedHealthCare: 10,549; Humana: 9,914). Rocky Mountain Health Plans (RMHP) will reduce individual plan offerings for 2017, offering plans only in Mesa County. Approximately 10,000 people currently enrolled in an individual RMHP plan will have to find a new plan when the enrollment period begins Nov. 1.

Perhaps most affected are those who live in the 14 counties in western Colorado, where Rocky Mountain Health Plans was a key player. Now residents of these counties will have a single insurance carrier to choose from on the exchange. Other areas of Colorado will face average premium increases over 40 percent, according to the Division of Insurance’s statement.

“…but with Coloradans reeling from the devastating effects of Obamacare, he now opposes Amendment 69.”

This statement is essentially true but lacks context.

As noted, numerous insurance companies are seeking premium increases and some companies are going so far as to eliminate their individual plans. Whether these changes from Obamacare are “devastating” is subjective. Time will tell.

Bennet has officially opposed Amendment 69, better known as ColoradoCare, a healthcare payment system designed to finance universal health care for Colorado residents. The system would create a 10 percent income tax — two-thirds paid for by employers and one-third paid for by payroll employees.

Bennet has officially come out in opposition to ColoradoCare after months of public uncertainty. Republican strategists have been framing him as a far-left candidate, citing his strong endorsement and record of support for a public option. While ColoradoCare is considered a “public option” and doesn’t rule out Coloradans purchasing private insurance, the Amendment 69 campaign assumes that “most Coloradans and businesses would stop purchasing other insurance,” thus eliminating the competition that was part of the Obamacare public option proposal.

Glenn is reiterating the claims many Republican opponents have been making, emphasizing Bennet’s hidden agenda and calling him out for “flip-flopping” on certain issues like this. Others say this is a clear example of Bennet attempting to appeal to certain voters at a convenient time.

Hannah R. Mullaney is a junior undergraduate in the journalism department of the College of Media, Communication and Information at the University of Colorado Boulder. This is her first assignment for CU News Corps.

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Explanatory Multimedia Reporting from CU Boulder Journalism Students
Fact Check: Glenn’s statements about Bennet and health care check out