GOP presses for repeal as Dems unleash numbers in rebuttal

As Republicans in Congress pushed for repeal of health care reform they charge is costly and unwieldy, Democrats on Tuesday swung back with statistics suggesting the impacts would be dire if the new law was scrapped.

All three of Nevada’s House members are expected Wednesday to take part in the debate on health care repeal, with a vote scheduled for the evening.

"Expanding government and increasing taxes is not reform," said Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who has pledged to vote to jettison the law and begin work on an alternative as a member of the House health subcommittee.

"We have an opportunity to repeal these policies and replace them with market-based reforms that will provide greater access, affordability, and economic certainty in our nation,” Heller said.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., plans to vote against repeal. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., will disclose his vote on Wednesday, aides said. He been critical generally of health reform but has held off on announcing his vote while awaiting word on how Republicans plan to plot a new course.

As debate commenced, Democrats launched a targeted campaign charging that repeal would mean higher prescription drug costs, would rescind consumer protections, increase hospital costs and allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

Drawing on census data, figures from federal health agencies and numbers from the Congressional Budget Office, Democrats said they calculated the impact of repeal on 30 metropolitan areas including Las Vegas.

In an effort to pressure Nevada Republicans, Democrats also issued breakdowns for constituents of Heck and Heller, as well as Berkley.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the political arm of House Dems, picked up on the theme. In separate news releases, it posed the rhetorical question as to whether Heck and Heller will "stand with middle class families or big health insurance companies."

Berkley further highlighted the numbers.

“The result of any repeal would be fewer protections for the 1.6 million Nevadans who have coverage now, less preventive care for more than 330,000 local seniors and an increase in the number of uninsured residents calling our community and our state home,” she said.

Republicans said they were not impressed at what they called Democratic scare tactics. Heller suggested they are intended to mask flaws in the reform bill.

“Many promises have been made by proponents of this health care law that have proven to be untrue," Heller said. "Supporters said if you like the insurance you have, you can keep it — but under the terms of the law you can’t; they said it will decrease the deficit — except it won’t; and it will reduce the cost of healthcare — which it doesn’t."

Heck spokesman Darren Littell said Heck "is committed to what he has always said he would do, that is repeal, repair and replace the bill and make sure people are receiving the kind of quality health care the deserve."

"We don’t have any reason to doubt (the numbers) at this time but we haven’t had a chance to closely examine them," Littell said. "Anytime you have numbers such as these that are so broad, you have to take pause before really knowing."

The Democrats’ counter-charge on health reform "seems to be a little bit of political maneuvering on their part," Littell said, adding it was a bit disingenuous as well. Republicans had offered solutions to health care problems last year only to have them rejected by Democrats in power, he maintained.

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