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Pelosi goes after Obamacare cuts, praises hospital staff in Las Vegas visit

Updated October 17, 2017 - 9:16 pm

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called President Donald Trump’s decision to cut Obamacare subsidies “very destructive” on Tuesday during a health care roundtable discussion at University Medical Center.

Last week, Trump announced the federal government will cut off cost-sharing reduction payments, a key component to the Affordable Care Act in which the government effectively paid insurance companies to offer cheaper plans to low-income customers.

“The president — how can I say this? — does not share our values on this. What he did was very destructive in taking away the cost-share benefits,” Pelosi said at the roundtable with Nevada Rep. Ruben Kihuen, Clark County Commissioners Chris Giunchigliani and Lawrence Weekly and many of the medical and administrative leaders from UMC.

Pelosi, a California Democrat, and Kihuen also praised the hospital’s staff extensively for its response to the Oct. 1 shooting that left 58 people dead and more than 500 injured after a gunman opened fire on an outdoor concert on the Strip.

“This tragedy just manifested to the world just how good you are at what you do,” Pelosi told the gathering of medical professionals.

Kihuen also thanked the staff for its “tireless work over the last two weeks.”

“Thanks to your work, hundreds of lives were saved,” Kihuen said.

The fate of the reimbursement payments remains in flux, as a bipartisan effort in the Senate was announced Tuesday that seeks to save them for at least two years.

Those reimbursements have been especially important for UMC, according to the hospital’s chief of staff, Dale Carrison. The CSRs, along with the expanded Medicaid coverage that Nevada has used under the ACA, helped the hospital climb back from several straight years of more than $70 million in annual losses to now operating in the black.

Without the subsidies, Carrison said, “we’re right back where we were.”

Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced that they had reached a deal on resuming federal payments to health insurers. The deal even seemed to draw some support from Trump, but it remains to be seen if the proposal can gain enough support in Congress.

“It is a short-term solution so we don’t have this very dangerous little period,” Trump said Tuesday from the White House.

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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