Hickenlooper at Aurora town hall says health care future will come from ‘difficult compromises’


AURORA | Gov. John Hickenlooper told a crowd in Aurora Wednesday night he believes his push for a bipartisan approach to fixing health care is gaining some traction among federal lawmakers in Washington.

Most notably, Hickenlooper has been working with Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich on the issue. While there has been a fair amount of buzz surrounding the bipartisan match-up, one attendee wanted to know whether the partnership was making any progress.

“Traction is a word that has a lot of elasticity,” the governor said. “But in a word, yes.”

Hickenlooper said he was invited to Washington, D.C., along with other state governors from both parties to talk about improving quality, expanding coverage and controlling the cost of health care.

“We will have the floor. We will have the opportunity. Now whether they listen, we’ll see,” Hickenlooper said.

Hickenlooper said Delaware’s Sen. Tom Carper spoke with the National Governors Association about his work on the health care issue.

Other attendees urged the governor, Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne and the cabinet members to work on preserving Colorado’s Medicaid coverage and integrating more transportation and mental health care into state policy.

“There are going to be difficult compromises, and we need to figure out as Americans what those compromises are,” Hickenlooper said earlier in the evening.

Hickenlooper did not detail what those compromises might look like.

While the town hall kept a friendly tone – when Hickenlooper asked the audience about political affiliation the crowd was overwhelmingly Democratic –  the meeting did come with some constructive criticism.

“You guys kind of have blinders on, universal health insurance does not ensure health care to anybody,” Kristen Williams, who works with non-profit community organization Together Colorado, told the governor and his cabinet. “In North Aurora, it’s so hard to get into a doctor. It takes months to get appointments. Everything they said universal health care would do to us is happening now.”

The town hall was focused on health care, but Hickenlooper started off the meeting on a very different subject, the recent clash between white supremacist groups and protesters at an alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“I can’t more strongly condemn this attack that was perpetrated by white supremacists,” Hickenlooper said, adding that “condemn” wasn’t a strong enough word, but there aren’t words to describe the actions from the group that left one protester and two police officers dead and 20 injured.

“I can’t understand how young people call themselves Nazis flippantly,” Hickenlooper said.