CORONAVIRUS VACCINE & AID
Background: COVID-19 continues to seriously impact Colorado. More than 70,000 Coloradans have tested positive for COVID-19 or are considered positive due to symptoms presented, and more than 2,000 have died. Now the prospect of a vaccine is on the horizon but the state is still struggling to respond.
Working to get more federal help and supports vaccine
A: Gardner says his priorities are reducing the spread of the virus, getting the economy restarted and providing needed supplies and tests to front line workers. At an October debate he said he supports a bill that would increase funding for vaccine development, unemployment relief, childcare support. At a later debate, he would trust a vaccine: “I will take the vaccine. We need to get it distributed.” He said he hoped the government would be able to distribute a vaccine in under a year.
Suggests military should help with distribution
A: Hickenlooper said he will focus on creating supply chains to get supplies to people who need it, including businesses. He believes the government should pay for coronavirus tests.
Hickenlooper suggested the military and National Guard should help with vaccine distribution. Even so, he said it would take up to a year to distribute the vaccine. He suggested he would be wary of the Trump administration’s ability to distribute a vaccine effectively. “I think a vaccine, when we get it, is going to have to be distributed very carefully and very fairly without any bias towards political purposes,” he said.
Background: The issue of health care is one of the strongest dividing lines in the race as the two candidates debate the merits of the Affordable Care Act. In Colorado, about 94% have health insurance coverage, a recent survey found, but the number of people who are uninsured is rising at the national level. The reason is mostly the cost of insurance. At the state level, a bill to create a public option died in the legislature in 2020 and a government single-payer failed at the ballot in 2016.
Opposes Affordable Care Act but wants to protect people with pre-existing conditions
A: Gardner opposes the Affordable Care Act. He also objects to the creation of a public option or expansion of Medicaid to cover everyone because all represent government intervention and he worries lower federal reimbursement rates for health care would hurt rural hospitals.
He has not outlined his own health care plan as a replacement for the ACA, but wants a plan that expands telemedicine and lowers prescription drug costs. He supports protections for those with pre-existing conditions but a bill he introduced would not offer the same level of current protections and it would still allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people.
Favors public option
A: Hickenlooper is promoting “an evolution, not a revolution” when it comes to health care. He favors a federal public health insurance option run by private insurance companies with regulations that are designed to help it compete against private plans on the insurance marketplace. He has said that it could be a pathway to a single-payer system such as “Medicare for All.”
Hickenlooper maintains that a public option plan needs to lower health care costs and work within the Affordable Care Act, but did not provide additional details on how it would work. As governor, he signed legislation to expand government-run Medicaid coverage to low-income residents.
Prescription drug importation
Background: The Democratic-led General Assembly in Colorado approved legislation in 2019 that would make the state one of the nation’s first to import prescription drugs from other countries. The Polis administration is delaying implementation amid the budget crunch, but the measure requires federal approval. President Donald Trump supports drug importation, but the next presidential administration could play a role.
Voted against drug importation
A: Gardner has introduced legislation to help lower drug prices. But in 2017 Gardner, along with Democratic colleague Michael Bennet, voted against a budget amendment that expressed support importing drugs from Canada. Twelve Republicans voted for the amendment.
Gardner says he has introduced legislation to lower drug prices by making it easier for generic drugs to reach the market more quickly. He also introduced a bill that would create a database of prescription drug prices in order to increase transparency.
Supports Colorado’s drugs importation program
A: Hickenlooper supports Colorado’s ability to import safe prescription drugs from other countries, including Canada and Mexico, and wants to end the prohibition on these imports. He would lower prices for consumers by expanding and rebuilding the Affordable Care Act. By allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices of prescription drugs, he believes drug companies will be more transparent about their pricing.
Background: Colorado is one of seven states with no restrictions on abortion. A ballot measure on the 2020 ballot asks voters whether they support a ban on abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy expect if the woman’s life is threatened.
He supported a more restrictive limitation on abortion
A: Gardner supports the ballot measures, saying he is “pro-life.” He also supportd a ban on abortion after 20 weeks, a more restrictive measure.
A: Hickenlooper opposes the abortion ban on the 2020 ballot in Colorado. He has vowed to protect health care coverage for women and full access to birth control. As governor, he supported a program that provided long-active reversible contraception to low-income women for free as a way to reduce unintended pregnancies.