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Colorado's Senators Aren't Throwing In The Towel On Health Care

DENVER (CBS4) - Colorado's junior and senior U.S. senators shared drastically different opinions on Tuesday after the latest attempt to repeal Obamacare died.

After Republican leaders in the Senate didn't wind up with enough support to repeal the American Care Act, Sen. Cory Gardner -- a Republican and Colorado's junior senator -- said "there are a lot of people out there today who seem to be spiking the football."

Cory Gardner
Sen. Cory Gardner (credit: CBS)

But he said it's not something to celebrate. He scolded Democrats.

"In the state of Colorado last week it was announced that the average premium rate increase for the next year will be 27 percent. But that's if you're lucky enough to live in the Front Range of Colorado. If you live on the Eastern Plains or the Western Slope you're going to pay 30 percent more, you're going to pay 40 percent more," Gardner said.

"That's spiking the football on the American people who will continue to pay more on the Affordable Care Act."

Colorado's senior Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, said the Republican plan would have made the situation worse.

"We could try to change the way people are pooled so that insurance companies can respond to a much bigger market than just one county. Maybe let people buy into Medicare or buy into Medicaid. We could have people have a public option," Bennet said.

Michael Bennet
Sen. Michael Bennet (credit: CBS)

He insists there is a will present in Washington to work to together on health care.

"There's no question that the Republicans are ready to work across the aisle. Their leadership has not been allowing them to do it because they've been insisting that this vote be done on partisan lines," Bennet said. "I think what we should do is have committee hearings. Have the regular process."

Sen. Michael Bennet (credit: CBS)

Gardner, like Bennet, said he's determined to keep working on health care.

"We will continue our work to get our job done to make sure that the status quo no longer stands and instead we provide relief to the American people," he said.

As lawmakers head back to the drawing board, Colorado's congressional delegation disagrees on where to go from here.

Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican who represents Colorado's 6th Congressional District and who has presented his own plan, says Republicans need to keep their promise to repeal and replace Obamcare.

Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat who represents Colorado's 1st Congressional District, says Americans want bipartisan reform that benefits all.

Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican who represents Colorado's 4th Congressional District, says simply that Congress needs to stay in Washington until it can fix health care.

The Colorado Hospital Association opposed the legislation that had been floated by Senate Republicans in part because of the changes it would have made to Medicaid, saying millions of people would go back to relying on emergency rooms for care. They also acknowledged that the American health care system needs reforms.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, credits a bipartisan campaign with Ohio's Republican Governor John Kasich for torpedoing the health care bill.

"There is no question Obamacare needs to be improved, but throwing the baby out with the bathwater would have been a disaster and governors would have been the one left holding the bag," said Hickenlooper.

Hickenlooper presented the bipartisan effort to a conference of governors. He says even conservative Republican governors were dismayed by the Senate effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and pressured their senators to scuttle the bill.

"There were 30 governors and almost all of them, not all, said lets slow this down and get this right. It's too important. It's people's lives," said Hickenlooper.

Hickenlooper says he believed after that meeting with governors that the Senate bill would fail, but privately worried in the hours before it fizzled.

"The confidence I kept seeing from McConnell, I will confess it made me very uneasy," said Hickenlooper.

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