WASHINGTON — Democratic Colorado Sen. Mark Udall on Wednesday did a bit of an about-face on his support for Barack Obama’s contentious health care program — and is now pushing legislation that would temporarily delay the president’s signature law.
Udall’s turnaround comes as the numbers were finally disclosed by the administration showing that 106,185 people nationwide enrolled in the new insurance program, 3,700 in Colorado, in the first six weeks of the rollout.
Udall originally supported Obamacare, echoed the president’s promise that individuals would be able to keep their original plan and doctor, and also told Fox 21 News in September 2009 that Obamacare would create affordable options.
“If you have an insurance policy you like, doctor or medical facility that provides medical services to you, you’ll be able to keep that doctor or that insurance policy,” Udall said.
Udall also said that Obamacare would allow consumers to purchase a portable plan to transfer with them from job to job.
However, five million Americans have seen their current insurance policies cancelled because it won’t transfer into the new system and still meet new rules and regulations, preventing patients from keeping their original doctors.
Udall says the bill he introduced this week would allow consumers to keep their current health insurance, and accused insurance companies of cancelling plans out of choice, and not because the plans do not meet the new federal mandates.
Udall did not indicate whether the plans could be renewed at the same or a higher price.
“I have repeatedly said that the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, and it will need to be improved as it is implemented,” Udall said in a statement Wednesday.
“I share the concern that some health insurance companies are choosing to cancel thousands of Coloradans’ plans. That’s why my common-sense bill will allow Coloradans the option to keep their current coverage if they want or to purchase new plans through the Connect for Health Colorado marketplace that may better meet their health care needs,” Udall said.
Ryan Call, Colorado Republican Committee Chairman, called Udall’s reversal “political cover” that came after 250,000 Coloradans lost their insurance plans, and said Udall voted to block Republican legislation that would have prevented the cancellation of those policies.
“These numbers are embarrassing, especially for Sen. Mark Udall who put his reputation on the line for this terrible bill that is hurting hardworking Coloradans and their families,” Call said.
“It’s clear that Mark Udall doesn’t have the best interest of Coloradans at heart. This move is simply an attempt for political cover,” Call said.
“Mark Udall owes the Coloradans who have lost their health care plans an apology and an explanation for why he voted to have their policies cancelled,” Call said.
Amy Stephens, one of several Republican candidates vying to unseat Udall in 2014, called Udall’s bill a phony plan that only delays the cancellations and does not ensure consumers can keep their original plans.
“When Senator Udall promised Coloradans they could keep their health insurance, he didn’t put a time stamp on it, but today, he offers a half measure that is simply insufficient and politically motivated,” Stephens said.
“It’s clear that Mark Udall is more interested in putting off the disastrous consequences of Obamacare until after his re-election campaign instead of actually standing up for Colorado families, which requires repealing this law and replacing it,” Stephens said.
Udall says he met last week with President Obama at the White House, and used the opportunity to urge that Obamacare’s enrollment period be extended because of problems with the website.
Only two percent of the seven million consumers needed to make the health care law financially viable have enrolled in Obamacare.