DURANGO, Colo. (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, in his first in-person town hall in more than a year, fielded angry questions about his votes to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Gardner said Friday in Durango that the law isn't working. Both Gardner and Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet said they would work toward a bipartisan solution to health care coverage.
Gardner, Bennet, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton and Gov. John Hickenlooper spoke Friday at a town hall after a tour of the Gold King Mine with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. The subject quickly turned to health care.
One man asked "why on Earth" Gardner voted for the Republican health care bill when the vast majority of his constituents opposed it.
"Seven years ago, when I ran for Congress, I said that I would vote to repeal and replace Obamacare, and I'm going to continue to live up to the promise I made," Gardner answered while some in the crowd shouted him down.
Gardner has been criticized for months for failing to hold an in-person town hall. He has held telephone town halls, including one Wednesday night during which he also fielded questions about heath care. Citizens have held protests at his office in Denver, demanding that he vote against efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Gardner said the protests were an inconvenience for other tenants in the commercial building and beginning Monday his Denver office will be in a federal building, where visitors will have to provide identification and pass through metal detectors.
In answer to other questions Friday, Gardner said he does not support single payer health care, but he believes Medicaid should remain as a safety net for some.
Bennet said there needs to be more transparency in costs and that states should be allowed to experiment with possible solutions.
One man asked Gardner and Tipton, also a Republican, when they would return for a longer town hall with more notice ahead of time. He said Friday's event was held in a small venue in the middle of the working day and people had less than 24 hours' notice.
Gardner said he would hold more town halls, but he said he didn't have his schedule with him.