Nevada districts warn of impacts of Senate health-care bill

WASHINGTON — As Senate Republicans prepare to unveil a revised bill to replace Obamacare, the health districts in Nevada’s two most populous counties warned of the impacts of proposed cuts.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto released letters Wednesday from the Southern Nevada Health District and the Washoe County Health District, which said the proposed Senate bill would cut programs that offer immunizations and Medicaid coverage to Nevadans.

Cortez Masto, D-Nev., said the letters “highlight the urgency to stop this bill from advancing before Nevadans can suffer from its dangerous and alarming consequences.”

“Public health programs provided by the health districts face serious cuts to funding that would be detrimental to their ability to care for and fully serve Nevadans,” she said.

Senate leaders are expected to unveil a revised version of their health care bill Thursday.

The bill is expected to contain $772 billion in cuts to Medicaid and end an expansion that allowed 200,000 people in Nevada to gain coverage since the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, was enacted in 2010.

President Donald Trump and Republicans in the Senate and House have vowed to repeal the ACA, saying the Obama legacy program led to higher premiums and mandated taxes and coverage that have burdened businesses and resulted in escalating entitlement spending.

Dr. Joseph Iser, the chief health officer for the Southern Nevada Health District in Clark County, said the Senate bill would eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund in 2018, which provides programs like immunizations and treatment for heart disease and diabetes.

The Medicaid cuts would further harm those who gained coverage under the expansion and cut clinical services, he said.

Iser said the Senate bill “endangers public health.”

Kevin Dick, the district health officer in Washoe County, said in a letter to Cortez Masto that the Medicaid cuts, and elimination of the PPHF would also cripple programs to respond to threats and outbreaks like the Zika and Ebola viruses.

“This is what I’ve been hearing from all over Nevada: a resounding opposition to the Senate Republican version of Trumpcare,” Cortez Masto said.

Democrats in the Senate are united in their opposition to repeal the ACA. Even though Republicans control the Senate, the bill has drawn opposition from GOP conservatives and moderates for differing reasons.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., is opposed to the Senate draft legislation because of the Medicaid cuts.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and other GOP governors who expanded Medicaid under the ACA have urged Congress and the Trump administration to work with states on reforms to the program.

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

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