Rep. Amodei Says Senate Needs to Fix Health Care Issues - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Rep. Amodei Says Senate Needs to Fix Health Care Issues

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The Affordable Care Act is still in effect, though Congress is working to find an alternative to the law. As the Senate works on their own version of the American Health Care Act, passed by the House of Representatives, one Nevada congressman says something has to change, soon.

"I hope they get together on something because the status quo, to go back to where we started, status quo with the ACA, quite frankly is it needs work," Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nevada said. "So, we need to start the process of working on it."

Sen. Dean Heller is one of the Republican holdouts who says he will not vote for the AHCA.  His problem with the bill is its impact on Medicaid Expansion, which would cost 200,000 Nevadans their health coverage. 

Amodei voted in favor of the AHCA, though it was a different version of the bill.

"Medicaid expansion was the ACA's thing of saying this is our provider of last resort," Amodei said. "The biggest challenge for us that's been at the federal government is there's no cash flow."

Americans pay a portion of each paycheck into things like Social Security and Medicare, but not Medicaid. Amodei says the program has to change. Especially since the federal debt is already nearly $20 trillion, and about 40% of federal spending comes from borrowed money.

"When you talk about where 70 cents of every federal dollar is Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and interest on the debt, it's like, you're not going to balance the budget in the other 30," Amodei said.

Amodei originally opposed the AHCA, because he thought the plan would either cost Nevada $250 million to pay for Medicaid Expansion, or its participants would lose coverage. After taking a deeper look at it, he voted in favor of the bill. He says the reasons are because it would allow people to stay on the Medicaid Expansion program until the age of 65, when they qualify for Medicare. People could sign up for Medicaid Expansion until 2020, and the federal government would still pay 90% of the cost.

"I don't know if it's a right or not a right, but if you've got health care right now, regardless of the source, I really don't want to see you booted off," Amodei said.

Amodei says neither version of the bill will repeal and replace the ACA, but it will change it. He says there are good things in the bill, but its not sustainable.

"With all due respect, it's not do I have a heart or don't I have a heart," Amodei said. "It's that I don't have the luxury of concentrating on the benefits side and not worry about the cost. I don't think you can."

More than half of Nevadans are insured through employer-provided insurance. About 20% get their coverage through the exchanges or buy their own private insurance. Amodei says those are the people who are having the most difficult time with the ACA. Premiums, co-pays and deductibles are also on the rise. Congress also is working on tax reform and a balanced budget, which would include health care spending.

"I think that's why they say you have to do health care first is because the budget impact allows other things to free up, at least on paper or philosophically, for tax reform and other things like that," Amodei said.

Health care is also an issue that affects every American.

"From prenatal to death, it affects everybody, even more than taxes," Amodei said.

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