Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All wasn’t the only piece of healthcare-related legislation introduced Wednesday. While more than a dozen Democratic senators were putting forward an idea to expand health care to everyone, three Republicans were introducing their plan to repeal Obamacare and take the health care that millions gained through the law away from them.
It’s a bad bill, made no better in the days that Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Dean Heller (R-NV) have spent working on it. In summary, like every other bill Republicans have tried, it would take insurance away from millions including millions on Medicaid, dramatically cuts Medicaid funding in the future jeopardizing care for our most vulnerable populations, makes premiums unaffordable by cutting the tax credits they use to buy insurance, and puts hospitals in jeopardy. This is always what Republicans envision as healthcare “reform”—keeping it available only to the people who can afford it anyway.
But let’s just focus a bit on Heller’s role in all this, because it is spectacularly opportunistic and politically incompetent. You might remember how he bent over backward to oppose the massive Medicaid cuts that were in the House version of the bill, standing shoulder to shoulder with his state’s governor, Brian Sandoval. Fast forward a few weeks, and he’s voting for a different version of the bill, one which still harms Medicaid and the people on it. Then fast forward another few weeks and he’s proclaiming himself the savior of Medicaid. After his bad vote and while he’s co-sponsoring this really, very bad for Medicaid bill.
It’s as if Heller can’t remember what Heller said or did the previous week. Either that or he thinks none of his constituents will be able to remember this when they’re casting a ballot for or against him next year. He’s also arguing in direct conflict with the bill’s authors.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the bill’s lead author, touted the bill’s deep cuts to Medicaid, saying that Medicaid spending currently is “unsustainable” and “crowds out the federal budget.”
Still, Heller insisted to TPM on Wednesday that Nevada would see a 30 percent health care spending increase under the bill, and said Nevada could both keep and expand its Medicaid program if it passes.
Which absolutely no health policy expert agrees with. In one estimation, Nevada would lose $257 million in the next decade under this legislation. Which is why, when asked if his good buddy Gov. Sandoval endorsed the legislation, the best Heller could come up with is “It’s a, uh, work in progress.”
Keep trying, there, Heller. Pretty soon the Congressional Budget Office score for this will come out and you won’t be able to waffle your way through this anymore.