Update: Amodei changes position, now supports GOP healthcare reform; Heller doesn’t | RecordCourier.com

Update: Amodei changes position, now supports GOP healthcare reform; Heller doesn’t

Geoff Dornan
gdornan@nevadaappeal.com

While Rep. Mark Amodei flipped his position and voted on Thursday to approve the GOP's Affordable Health Care Act, fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Dean Heller says he's still not a supporter.

Amodei had opposed his party's proposed healthcare reform plan since the Paul Ryan plan was originally introduced in March. But, in a lengthy statement issued Thursday morning, Amodei confirmed he had changed his mind and supported the proposal.

He has said since early March his opposition was because of the plan's impact on Nevada's Medicaid recipients.

"My overriding concern was that the AHCE would leave Nevada with a nearly $245 million shortfall by cutting Medicaid funding to the states over the coming four years," he said. "So long as that potential deficit was a possibility for Nevada, I was a no vote.

"I am happy to indicate to Nevada traditional Medicaid enrollees that my review of the current version of the AHCA will make no changes in current enrollee eligibility and will likely increase federal funding to Nevada's traditional Medicaid program."

Heller, however, said he believe the latest version approved by the House on Thursday still "falls short."

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"We cannot pull the rug out from under states like Nevada that expanded Medicaid and we need assurances that people with pre-existing conditions will be protected,"

Amodei said he's now convinced Nevadans who enrolled in the expanded program since 2014 will be able to remain covered as long as their income doesn't exceed 138 percent of the poverty level. That's in the current law. He said Nevada will continue to receive enhanced funding for those Medicaid enrollees.

Also, he said the bill includes tax credits to ensure those who leave Medicaid have access to insurance in the private market.

Amodei said, however, the existing healthcare law still will need work. He said that will be the Senate's job.

"I fully expect the Senate to continue what has been a raucous discussion to say the least," he said. "With my vote today, I am supporting a start of that newest work chapter."

Heller said he's confident the bill the Senate considers will be different from the House bill and he will continue to work with Gov. Brian Sandoval to ensure he's working for what Nevada needs.

"My position on the House healthcare bill has not changed. I will continue to stand with Nevadans and work with Sen. Heller," Gov. Sandoval said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

Nevada's junior Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said the GOP House plan would take health care coverage away from millions and cause premiums to skyrocket, especially for those with pre-existing conditions. She vowed to fight the plan in the Senate.

Nevada's three Democratic House members, Dina Titus, Jacky Rosen and Ruben Kihuen, all voted against the plan, describing it as disastrous. Rosen said it would gut Medicaid coverage for millions of the nation's most vulnerable.

"Trumpcare will not improve health care for Nevadans, but it will give a tax break to the wealthiest Americans and corporations," said Titus.

Kihuen said Republican House members should be ashamed of voting for a bill that puts those with pre-existing conditions at risk, gives tax breaks to the rich and reduces rural access to healthcare. He and Titus also charged the plan contains an "age tax" on those over age 50.

Senators including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Louisiana's Bill Cassidy made it clear the Senate will develop its own bill and not use the House bill as a vehicle.