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DeGette addresses health care and more in South Jeffco

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By Deborah Swearingen

In a country that seems more divided than ever, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette says it’s important to remember there is more bipartisan common ground than some would think.

“We have a two-party system,” she said. “You can have those disagreements without being disagreeable. I always try to keep civility when I disagree with people.”

The Colorado Democrat represents the state’s 1st Congressional District, which largely covers downtown Denver but also extends into the Columbine and Ken Caryl areas. She recently spent a week in the Denver metro area meeting with constituents and interest groups to talk about health care, immigration and more.

Issues affecting South Jeffco

Perhaps the greatest of DeGette’s concerns is how the American Health Care Act, dubbed Trumpcare, could affect her constituents. The bill passed in the House and now must be approved by the Senate.

While House Speaker Paul Ryan on his website suggests the new health care bill would cut premiums and provide more health care options for patients, DeGette fears it could do the exact opposite.

“I think that thousands of people in my district would lose their health insurance, and I think that thousands more would see their premiums and their costs go up,” she said.

Instead of repealing the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, DeGette suggests revamping it and working together to correct some of its weaknesses.

“It wasn’t perfect when it was passed,” she added.

Although Congress reached an agreement to fund the federal government through September, Trump’s proposed budget is still on the table for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts in October. If passed, the budget would eliminate funding for the Community Development Block Grant program, which pays for urban-renewal projects.

This is another area of concern for DeGette, who said she’s met with municipalities such as the Englewood City Council that use these grants.

Englewood is in Arapahoe County, but Jeffco receives federal funding annually for this program from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Jeffco’s website says it places a priority on providing this funding for housing, economic development and infrastructure for low-income communities.

The area south of downtown Denver has a unique set of issues, but many issues are the same across the Front Range, DeGette said.

Infrastructure, for example, is an interest of many — and it’s a place where most can find some common ground.

“You know, President Trump, when he came in, said he wanted to do infrastructure,” DeGette said. “All of us agree that we need roads, highways. … We need infrastructure, and I think that’s something we can really work on on a bipartisan basis.”

Affects us all

While the firing of FBI director James Comey and alleged Russian involvement in the November election might not directly affect South Jeffco, DeGette said she sees both as going to the core of democracy.

Democrats were unhappy with Comey for his handling of the investigation into presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s emails, but DeGette said she found the timing of Comey’s firing suspicious. She last week called for a special counsel to investigate the Russian involvement in the election, saying there needs to be an independent commission in Congress to investigate it.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dwearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042.