Afternoon Headlines June 22, 2017

U.S. Senate Republicans released their plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act this morning. Colorado Senator Cory Gardner released a statement expressing frustration at the immediate opposition of some towards the bill, saying that serious debate over the proposal was merited before opinions were formed. He announced that he himself was carefully reviewing the 142 page proposal.

Gardner was one of 13 Republican senators chosen to prepare the proposal, but said that he was only involved in giving broad input on policy, not writing any language. In an interview with Denver7, he said he did not have access to the text until last minute. Later, the senator told the Denver Post he thought the bill writing process should have been more open and claimed he had called for public hearings.

Gardner opposed Obamacare and ran for Senate promising to repeal the ACA. However, Gardner is critical of the issue of Medicaid in the new proposal. Under the Affordable Care Act, Colorado residents without health insurance went from 15.8% to 6.7% with the help of Medicaid. Gardner has cautioned the Senate about the speed with which the new bill would cap federal funding for Medicaid, stopping its expansion.

According to a study from the Colorado Fiscal Institute, the state government would need to produce $800 million to continue the progress of Medicaid under the ACA. In addition, it would need to provide $165 million every year to cover vulnerable populations such as the elderly, disabled, and children living in poverty. The bill is projected to result in the loss of 16,000 jobs statewide by 2020 and would involve tax cuts for the wealthy, urban population while those in rural Colorado would be given no tax break.

In order for the bill to move forward, it must receive 50 votes in the Senate. With all Democrats likely voting against the proposal, Republicans can’t lose more than two party votes. As of today, four Republican senators say they oppose the bill in its current form because they don’t think it is not different enough from the Affordable Care Act.

Soon, it may get more expensive to drive in express lanes on US 36 and on Interstate 25. Plenary Roads Denver announced potential rate increases today for driving on the highways.

Plenary Roads is a consortium that includes Goldman Sachs and has a 50 years contract with the Colorado Department of Transportation to expand and maintain U.S. 36 between Boulder and Denver and parts of I 25. The company will be repaid over 50 years through express lane tolls.

If the new rates are approved, there would be an average increase of 10 cents for off-peak drivers using US 36. A morning drive from Boulder to Denver would actually decrease by 40 cents to $8.35, but the afternoon drive back to Boulder would cost $8.05, 75 cents more than the current price. Overall, the round trip would be 35 cents more expensive than it is now.

The rate increases must be approved by High Performance Transportation Enterprise, which operates as a government-owned independent business within the Colorado Department of Transportation. Plenary Roads Denver will present the plan at a board meeting held at the CDOT Headquarters Auditorium on July 11. Public comment and the board’s vote will happen no earlier than 12:30 pm that day. If passed, the new rates would be put into effect on July 24th.

Yesterday, Denver resident Isle Cristina Rodriguez Sagaraga was detained by Immigration Customs and Enforcement at a routine check-in with her field officer. She now faces immediate deportation and could be sent to Mexico as early as tomorrow.

Sagaraga is a mother of 3 daughters, all U.S. citizens, and would have to leave them and her husband behind if deported. She arrived in the United States at the age of 5 and has virtually no memories of Mexico. In 2008, she was charged with a misdemeanor when fleeing an abusive relationship with her ex-husband and has fought deportation since then.

Because of her misdemeanor, Sagaraga could not apply for DACA, but she is awaiting a response on a U visa application that could benefit her as a survivor of childhood domestic violence.

A vigil in support of Sagaraga and in protest of ICE will be held tonight at 7 outside the GEO Detention Center in Aurora.




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