During a House Energy and Commerce Committee oversight hearing on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) had a lofty request for Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: exempt my entire district from Obamacare.
“I would like to submit a waiver from my district from Obamacare and hope you consider waiving it for the fourth congressional district,” said Gardner, concluding a contentious exchange with Sebelius.
Even if Sebelius could “exempt” the entire 4th congressional district from Obamacare — which isn’t actually feasible — it would mean that its 738,000 residents would no longer enjoy the law’s consumer protections or federal subsidies to purchase health insurance. Over 14 percent — or 102,000 people — in Gardner’s district are uninsured, while approximately 19,000 people in Colorado have already enrolled in an Obamacare marketplace plan as of October 29.
The 4th Congressional District also has over 91,000 people living below the poverty line, many of whom were not eligible for Medicaid before Colorado agreed to expand the program under Obamacare. An “exemption” from Obamacare would presumably prevent these people and all residents earning up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) from enrolling in Medicaid, too.
During his questioning, Gardner also demanded Sebelius to drop her employer-sponsored health coverage and asked her to defend a Colorado advertisement encouraging young people to sign up for Obamacare that depicted college students doing a keg stand. Sebelius pointed out that Colorado is operating its own Obamacare marketplace and that she has nothing to do with such ads.