Health Care

Nevada's Heller opposes GOP health bill

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who faces a competitive re-election race in 2018, says he has "serious concerns about the bill's impact on the Nevadans who depend on Medicaid".

It would repeal the ACA's individual mandate to purchase health insurance, make deep cuts to Medicaid and withhold federal funding to Planned Parenthood for a year.

"I can not support a piece of legislation that takes insurance away from tens of millions of Americans and tens of thousands of Nevadans", Heller said.

The Senate bill to undo much of Barack Obama's health care law is better for Wisconsin than the House bill in some ways, health care experts said, but is worse in other ways, particularly with Medicaid funding.

Rand Paul, who has rejected the plan along with fellow Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Ron Johnson, said fundamental problems remained that would leave taxpayers subsidizing health insurance companies.

"If our Republican colleagues were proud of this bill, there'd be a brass band down the middle of Fifth Avenue and every street in America", said Schumer, the Senate's minority leader.

Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell has pushed for a vote on the bill next week, but at least four Republicans have publicly voiced their opposition to the bill. Change is justified by the current cost of Medicaid and private insurance.

Once promised as a top-to-bottom revamp of the health bill passed by the House last month, the Senate bill instead maintains its structure, with modest adjustments. "But the bill in front of us today I don't think makes those fixes", Heller said.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which represents health insurers covering more than 100 million people in the USA, said it will continue to push for a replacement for Obamacare's coverage requirement as well. He indicated the Senate plan met that request.

But other provisions aimed at enticing conservative senators could bring more sweeping cuts to the expansion program than the health care bill approved by House Republicans. Medicaid provides health care not only to the poor, but also to elderly and disabled Americans, who account for 60 percent of the cost.

A comparative moderate, Heller supports the expansion of Medicare that was included in the Affordable Care Act.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said that under the House bill, 23 million fewer people would have coverage by 2026. It would erase taxes on higher earners and the medical industry that helped Obama's law expand coverage by roughly 20 million Americans.

But the 142-page draft would allow states to drop several benefits which are now mandated, such as maternity care and hospital services, and would also abolish the requirement for most Americans to have health insurance. That would focus the aid more on people with lower incomes than the House legislation, which bases its subsidies on age.

"We have to act", McConnell said on the Senate floor.

In their attempt to appease public sentiment by keeping a widely liked thing, getting rid of a widely loathed thing and scaling back a poorly understood thing, Senate Republicans may have set up their own system to fail.



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