Only on 2: Nevada’s Senators on Healthcare Debate
As senators continue debating changes to health care policy, we sit down with Nevada's lawmakers to get their thoughts on the health care debate.
We were able to speak with both Nevada’s senators about the healthcare debate in their D.C. offices.
“I know that I am standing between perhaps this White House, perhaps even this legislature, and the state of Nevada, to do what’s right for them.”
When asked if Dean Heller is feeling the heat right now – as one of the only Republican holdouts in the health care law repeal – he says he welcomes the debate.
“I voted to have this debate because they’re not all bad ideas,” he says.
Heller wants to be clear – he is in favor of repealing most of the Affordable Care Act eliminating the individual mandate and its penalties even though that likely means fewer people with health insurance.
“Do you believe it’s better if more people are insured?” I asked.
“Absolutely. Absolutely, I do want that, but I want individuals to have a choice. Right now the ACA doesn’t give you a choice,” says Sen. Heller (R-NV.).
Heller wants to keep Medicaid funding out of the repeal, along with protection for those with pre-existing conditions and those who want to stay on their parent’s insurance pan until age 26.
So far, he hasn’t seen a plan he’s liked enough to vote for it. But, his vote is still winnable. “If it’s better for the state of Nevada, absolutely. We are taking a look, and if there’s some good ideas out there.”
On his "good ideas" list - is opening up the insurance market across state lines, increasing competition, which he says will drive down costs.
On his "bad ideas" list - is rebranding Medicaid cuts as just "slowing the rate of growth" as some top officials have called it.
"They said, 'Hey, we have a new way of looking at Medicaid.' I asked them 'Is there $772 billion in cuts over the next 10 years? Because if that's still in there, I'm not gonna support it."
On the other side of the aisle - Senator Catherine Cortez Masto doesn't have any ‘if'’s about her position -
"It's happening now, and we are going to do everything we can to fight against it," says Cortez Masto (D-NV.)
Like the rest of her party, Cortez Masto says it's small adjustments we need - not a total overhaul.
"To me that starts with keeping the ACA as a foundation and improving upon it because there are major fixes that we have to address."
On her list - is bringing down premiums. And bringing insurance carriers back to states like Nevada after they pulled out of rural counties among all the uncertainty in the market.
Both of our senators agree - it's a major issue that needs close attention. In fact they both disagree with the forced manner in which the issue landed on the Senate floor without committee hearings, expert testimony or enough discussion.
"That's the real tragedy of this. This is not why I came to the United States Senate. This is such an important issue as you know, for millions of Americans,” says Cortez Masto.
Heller adds, "Bad process produces bad legislation, and if we can get it through the committee, let the discussion happen, keep it in the open, bring experts in, have these discussions, we'd be producing a lot better legislation at the end of the day."
Republicans are deeply divided about how to repeal and replace “Obamacare”. They made a final push to pass what's being called the "skinny repeal," but it failed.
Senator Dean Heller voted "yes," while Catherine Cortez Masto voted against the bill.