69°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Heller, Sandoval join ranks of Republicans opposing GOP health care bill

Updated March 17, 2017 - 7:15 pm

WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Dean Heller and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said Friday they won’t support the House health care bill.

Heller reportedly joined a handful of Republican senators in announcing opposition to the beleaguered legislation. That leaves Senate GOP leaders at least two votes shy of what they’d need to pass the plan.

Meanwhile, Sandoval and three other GOP governors told congressional leaders that they opposed the proposal in its present form because it takes away flexibility and shifts costs to the states.

The Republican governors have met previously with President Donald Trump and House and Senate leaders in an attempt to formulate legislation that preserves federal funding for Medicaid expansion in their states.

And they said they were encouraged by Trump’s joint speech to Congress where he assured that the GOP replacement to the Affordable Care Act would provide “governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out.”

But Sandoval, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, all Republicans who expanded Medicaid in their states, said the House replacement bill wending its way through Congress does none of that.

“It provides no new flexibility for states, does not ensure the resources necessary to make sure no one is left out, and shifts significant new costs to states,” the governors said in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The letter, dated March 16, was obtained Friday as Trump announced his 100 percent support for the bill, which has fractured the Republican caucus. Democrats in both chambers are united in their opposition to the replacement legislation.

‘A GREAT PLAN’

Despite efforts by Ryan to tamp down opposition to the bill in his party, Trump said the health care proposal is in “great shape.”

“It’s a great plan. The press doesn’t give it a fair read, but I’ve heard that before. What are you going to do — the fake news,” Trump said. “But it’s a great plan or I wouldn’t be involved with it.”

Trump made the comments after meeting with conservative House GOP lawmakers who have opposed the replacement bill because it leaves too much of the ACA, known as Obamacare, intact.

Ryan acknowledged Republican opposition to the bill this week, but he said the plan, which emerged from two House committees, is the best chance that the Republican-led Congress has to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The bill, which could receive a full House vote next week, faces even more challenges in the Senate, where Republican senators who represent broader constituencies than GOP House members with smaller districts have voiced concern.

“I agree with Governor Sandoval. I do not support the House bill in its current form,” Heller said in a statement to the Associated Press in Carson City.

Heller joined three fellow GOP senators in opposing the bill: Susan Collins of Maine, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah. Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ted Cruz of Texas also have voiced strong objections.

Republicans have a 52-48 Senate majority.

Several conservative Republicans have said they do not support the House plan because it leaves intact too many regulations that were included in the Obamacare legislation.

Moderates have balked at measures to block funding to Planned Parenthood, and cuts in federal support for Medicaid expansion in states, which would wind down in 2020.

House conservatives with the Republican Study Committee want to ratchet down on Medicaid sooner, curtailing funds to states in 2018 and requiring Medicaid recipients to seek work to be eligible for subsidies.

THE ‘AGE TAX’

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., said a new analysis by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, of which she is a member, showed that the Republican replacement bill, the American Health Care Act, would allow insurance companies to charge older Americans five times more than younger adults.

Current law caps the increase at 3-1.

Cortez Masto said the “age tax” in the Republican plan would raise premiums in Nevada by $1,772 a year for a 60-year-old.

The analysis also showed that Medicaid spending would be reduced by $880 billion, and make Medicaid eligibility more difficult through a number of rule changes.

Kasich met with Trump at the White House earlier this month to urge the administration to seek modifications to Medicaid changes in the House bill.

Sandoval, the National Governors Association vice chairman, also met with administration officials and Republican leaders in Washington, warning that changes in Medicaid funding would have an adverse impact on states.

Nevada is one of 31 states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare. About 300,000 people were insured under the expansion.

In their letter to Ryan and McConnell, Sandoval and the GOP governors said “we support fundamental reform of the Medicaid entitlement.”

But they said they wanted to see reform that does not penalize expansion and non-expansion states.

“Additionally, we believe Congress should focus first on stabilizing the private insurance market, where the greatest disruption from Obamacare has occurred,” the governors wrote.

Contact Gary Martin at 202-662-7390 or gmartin@reviewjournal.com. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST