DENVER — Sen. Mark Udall’s support for Obamacare came back to haunt him again Thursday with the release of figures showing that thousands more Coloradans have had their health insurance policies cancelled.
The state Division of Insurance said in a letter to the Colorado Senate Republicans that another 2,105 policies were discontinued in August in the aftermath of the Affordable Care Act, bringing the total to 341,666.
The growing tally has dogged the Democrat Udall in his bid for reelection. Republicans have blasted him for voting in favor of Obamacare and then repeating President Obama’s claim that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” which PolitiFact voted the 2013 “Lie of the Year.”
Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, who’s seeking to unseat Mr. Udall, responded by releasing a video Thursday highlighting the Democrat’s continued support for Obamacare.
“Mark Udall promised if you liked your plan, you could keep your plan,” says Mr. Gardner in the video. “Mark Udall promised if you liked your doctor, you could keep your doctor. Mark Udall lied to the people of Colorado.”
Mr. Gardner knows a thing or two about cancelled policies. His family’s insurance plan was among those discontinued in the post-Obamacare upheaval.
While the Udall campaign has tried to keep the focus on the “war on women,” the Gardner camp has hit hard on Obamacare. An ad released last week shows Mr. Gardner standing by a mailbox warning that “more cancellations are on the way.”
Udall spokesman Mike Saccone countered that the term “cancellation” wasn’t accurate because policyholders were offered an opportunity to renew their coverage.
“[T]he so-called ‘cancellations’ were not in fact true cancellations because individuals who received these letters were offered the opportunity to re-enroll in their exact same plans,” said Mr. Saccone in an email. “They were offered that option in said letters, not replacement policies.”
President Obama issued a directive in March allowing insurers to delay the ACA’s minimum-coverage requirement until October 2017 if their states allow it. Colorado’s insurance commissioner announced in May that she would allow such an extension through 2015.
A series of emails obtained in January by the website Complete Colorado revealed that Udall staffers pressured state insurance regulators to alter the cancellation figures to reflect the new policy offers.
“When we found out the real number, Mark Udall tried to cook the books. He tried to get them to change the number because he was afraid that if the people really found out what happened with Obamacare, that he could lose his election,” says Mr. Gardner in Thursday’s video.
“Look, this isn’t about election year politics,” Mr. Gardner says. “This is about the people of Colorado.”
Polls show the Senate race locked in a statistical dead heat, but voters are far less divided on Obamacare. A Rasmussen Reports survey released last month found 58 percent of Colorado voters surveyed disapprove of Obamacare, while only 39 percent approve.