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Gibbons criticizes Reid’s proposal for health care reform

Gov. Jim Gibbons goes on the attack against health care reform legislation supported by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. Gibbons, a Republican, sent this extensive statement to the Nevada media that criticizes reform legislation.

Here’s the text of the statement from Gibbons’ office:

Governor Jim Gibbons today called on Nevada’s Congressional delegation not to support Senator Harry Reid’s health care reform proposal currently being debated on the Senate Floor.

Under the Reid plan, a mandatory expansion of the Nevada Medicaid program would add more than 41,000 people to the program’s rolls in 2014, expanding Nevada’s Medicaid enrollment by nearly 60% by 2019. Overall, the Reid plan will cost Nevada taxpayers more than $613 million in state General Fund dollars between 2014 and 2019. In addition to imposing this massive tax burden, the bill also removes existing state options, essentially federalizing the program.

The proposal increases taxes on Nevada businesses and individuals directly through new taxes on existing health plans, an increase in Medicare payroll taxes, taxing Medicaid managed care plans, the elimination of the itemized medical expense deduction and more. Individuals will also be forced to fund the $1.7 billion federal Medicaid “cost share” through their federal income taxes. Estimates from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) forecast premiums in the individual market will rise significantly faster than they would under current law. The bill would also grant the federal government a historic level of authority over the health care industry through dangerous levels of discretion granted to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

“At the beginning of the health reform debate, the Senate Majority Leader and the Obama Administration promised their proposals would lower costs in the private market, expand access to individuals, and allow citizens to keep their current coverage if they are satisfied,” Governor Gibbons stated, “In reality, this bill will cripple or bankrupt the state’s general fund, costing taxpayers money at a time they can least afford it.”

“Nevada businesses are struggling to keep employees. Nevadans are fighting to keep their homes,” Gibbons said, “The last thing we need is the federal government trying to solve our problems with resources we, as a nation, do not have. Nevada cannot afford Senator Reid or his health care plan. Clearly, more than 2,000 miles distance Harry Reid from Nevada. Senator Reid has lost sight of what’s best for Nevada.”

The Reid plan also includes an optional early implementation period for 2011 through 2013. Early implementation would increase the direct cost to Nevada taxpayers for Medicaid expansion from $613 million to $1.2 billion.

Jon Summers, spokesman for Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., responds to the attack on health reform legislation from Gov. Jim Gibbons, a Republican.

“Not only is Jim Gibbons overtly playing politics on this important issue, he’s using fuzzy math to do it.  This bill will cut insurance premiums for Nevadans by as much as $1,600 a year, provides tax credits for up to 24,000 small businesses, and provides the state of Nevada more than $8 billion to cover Nevadans in need.  This bill accomplishes all that while cutting the national deficit by nearly $130 billion over the next ten years.  It’s hard to imagine why the governor of a state that is suffering so much is so opposed to helping the people who need it the most.”

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