DENVER — Colorado Congressman Cory Gardner, a Yuma Republican considered to be a rising star within the House GOP, has been front and center during the high-profile fight over the Affordable Care Act.
As the centerpiece of the law, health care exchanges, were introduced this week, Republicans have refused to allow a vote on a clean budget to fund the government — triggering a government shutdown — unless the resolution included amendments to de-fund or delay the implementation of the law.
Gardner, in just his second term, has been highlighting own personal experience with the Affordable Care Act.
In an interview last Friday, Gardner told FOX31 Denver that his current insurance plan was being cancelled and that premiums for a comparable plan under “Obamacare” are more than double what he’s been paying.
“Just a couple weeks ago, despite the president’s promise that if you liked your insurance you could keep it, my family received a letter in the mail that our insurance plan is being cancelled — cancelled because of the president’s health care bill,” Gardner told said.
“We were paying about $650 a month for our plan. And the plan that’s most similar to replace it through our current provider goes up by 100 percent more, so it’s from $650 to $1,480.”
Later that same day, Gardner appeared on CNN’s Crossfire and told the exact same story.
Since then, FOX31 Denver has asked Gardner to provide a copy of the letter or to provide additional details about the policies.
After our story aired on Good Day Colorado Friday morning, Gardner released a copy of the letter with some information redacted, that he says his family received.
On Colorado’s new health care exchange, the online marketplace where buyers can browse and purchase more than 500 plans from 11 different insurers and find out whether they’re eligible for federal tax credits, a 39-year-old like Gardner who lives in Yuma, has a wife and two children as Gardner does, can find dozens of policies ranging from $828 a month to $2,044 a month.
It’s possible Gardner’s letter came from Humana, which issued a letter on Aug. 28 that, according to the Colorado Dept. of Insurance, “incorrectly states that customers must choose to renew their health insurance with Humana by September 28, 2013, or their insurance would be cancelled.”
“I was disappointed to see a letter that appeared threatening and incorrect going out to consumers,” said Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar at the time.
At Salazar’s urging, Humana sent apology letters on September 20 to the 3,400 policy holders who received the erroneous cancellation letters.
Dede de Percin, executive director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, told FOX31 Denver that even if Gardner’s story is legitimate, it’s not the norm.
“Most people don’t have his resources to be able to opt out of their employer’s health insurance and buy their own expensive plan on the private market,” de Percin said. “His story may be accurate, but it’s not the norm.”
Gardner only insists that the plan he purchased was best for his family.
“It worked for our family; and we chose it because it best fit our needs,” he said. “They’re assuming the government knows better what our needs are, and that’s simply not true.”