DENVER – U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman is hosting a town hall meeting Tuesday evening in Henderson—days after Senate Republicans’ latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act again failed, and in the midst of reports that wait times at Colorado’s Veterans Affairs hospitals are among the worst in the nation.
Denver7 talked with Coffman, a Colorado Republican, Tuesday ahead of the town hall.
He focused on the VA wait times and other veteran-related issues in the interview—something he’s had a keen interest in and has been an active participant in when committees have crafted legislation over the past several months.
Wait times for a primary care appointment at the Denver VA are some of the worst in the country; people are waiting an average of 18 days to get care. That’s four times higher than the national average, reports the Associated Press.
“I’m very disappointed in wait times,” Coffman told Denver7.
“Can you say with certainty things will get better, or are you a bit leery?” asked Denver7 reporter Marc Stewart.
“Oh I’m leery,” he said.
Coffman says he’s been told by VA Secretary David Shulkin that the new facility in Aurora, along with incentives to beef up staffing, will help—but he said Tuesday he’s not convinced.
“I’m certainty want to believe the secretary, but it’s kind of trust-by-verify,” Coffman said.
Coffman is putting weight in the new Choice Act, which allows veterans to seek private care in the event of excessive waits.
He will soon be meeting with a regional VA director.
“We’ve got to get the VA to work better, and as part of the VA working better, choice has to work better.”
On the topic of affordable health care, Coffman went against his party, voting not to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with the House’s American Health Care Act amid concerns over coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
“Do you feel your constituents are better off now this has failed?” asked Stewart.
“No, they’re not,” Coffman said. “We have to get something done, because the fact is the Affordable Care Act isn’t working as promised.”
And as he’s done for months now, Coffman again called for a bipartisan solution.
“[It’s] better to say we’re going to get this done. It’s not to going to be overnight, and let’s reach out and wherever we can, let’s do it on a bi-partisan basis.”
Coffman’s town hall at Prairie View High School in Henderson is expected to begin at 6 p.m. Denver7 will stream it live if you can’t attend but wish to watch, and will have coverage on what is discussed throughout the evening and on Denver7 News at 10.