WITH HELLER POSITIONED AS DECIDING VOTE ON GOP HEALTH CARE BILL, NEVADA’S DEMOCRATIC LEADERS PUSH FOR ANSWERS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 20, 2017

 

WITH HELLER POSITIONED AS DECIDING VOTE ON GOP HEALTH CARE BILL, NEVADA’S DEMOCRATIC LEADERS PUSH FOR ANSWERS

 

LAS VEGAS - Today, Nevada State Senate Majority Leader Aaron D. Ford and Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson sent the attached letter (full text below) to U.S. Senator Dean Heller asking for answers on the latest version of the Republican health care bill. The Senate GOP bill is being crafted in secret with no public hearings or input, but previous estimates have suggested that up to 400,000 Nevadans could lose their care if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. 

 

Senator Ford and Speaker Frierson made the following statement:

 

“It is imperative that Senator Heller provide answers to critical questions about how this secret legislation will affect the hundreds of thousands of Nevadans who rely on the Affordable Care Act for coverage. Because he is likely the deciding vote, Senator Heller is in the unique position to force this debate out into the open. It is time for Senator Heller to make it clear that he will not support any legislation that hurts Nevadans and has not been fully vetted in a transparent, public legislative process.” 

 

Nevada’s leaders have expressed bipartisan opposition to rolling back health care coverage, with both Governor Brian Sandoval and Democratic leaders speaking out against it. Senator Ford and Speaker Frierson have previously attempted to get answers from Senator Heller’s office regarding the details of Republican health care legislation, though no answers have been forthcoming. 

 

FULL TEXT OF SENATOR FORD AND SPEAKER FRIERSON’S LETTER:

 

June 20, 2017

 

The Honorable Dean Heller

324 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510                                                        

 

Dear Senator Heller:

 

As the leaders of the Nevada legislature, we are deeply concerned about the U.S. Senate’s plan to advance legislation that repeals the Affordable Care Act, considering its expected impact on individuals and families across Nevada. We have attempted to express our concerns to you on several occasions. Despite promises of a detailed reply, in the last seven months neither your office nor the Trump administration has provided any satisfactory answers to ease our concerns. Since you are likely to be a deciding vote on this legislation, we are writing to you again with the hope that you will respond to our serious concerns.

 

Among state leaders, there is bipartisan opposition to any legislation that would reduce health coverage in Nevada. Governor Sandoval has made it clear that he also opposes changes, particularly to Medicaid expansion, that could cause hundreds of thousands of Nevadans’ to lose their access to affordable health care. During the most recent legislative session, we passed two resolutions calling on Congress to maintain the coverage afforded to Nevadans under the Affordable Care Act.

 

This bill, as passed by the House of Representatives, would drastically reduce coverage for millions of Americans—including many low-income families and disabled individuals who rely on Medicaid in our state—and increase out-of-pocket costs for the sickest and oldest here in Nevada. In particular, the AHCA’s cuts to Medicaid threaten the biggest source of federal funding coming into our state. These massive cuts would put even greater pressure on our state budget and make it difficult to fund other important priorities such as education, infrastructure, mental health, and efforts to address the opioid epidemic. If Congress moves forward with these huge cuts to Medicaid, our state will be forced to consider lowering payments to doctors and taking away health coverage from children, seniors, and people with disabilities. 

 

Despite the Senate Republicans’ initial claims that they would start from scratch with their own bill, it appears that the Senate is poised to pass the House version of the AHCA with only minor changes. However, it is impossible to confirm this or to know how the Senate version of this bill will impact our mutual constituents because it is being secretly drafted by a small number of Senators behind closed doors. 

 

Therefore, we are again writing to you today to express our objections and to ask that you not vote on this bill until you come back to Nevada to answer the following questions about its impact on our state:

 

  • How many people in Nevada will lose health insurance coverage?

 

  • How will this bill impact Nevada’s Medicaid budget?

 

  • What will it cost our state to maintain our current level of coverage and current Medicaid benefits?

 

  • How many of the thousands of individuals in Nevada who require care will continue to have access to substance abuse disorder and mental health services, maternity care, and other critical services?

 

  • Does the bill protect those in Nevada with preexisting conditions from spikes in premium costs or other out-of-pocket cost increases, based on the status of their health or the types of services they need?

 

  • What will be the bill’s impact on jobs in the state, and how many jobs will be lost as a result of this bill?

 

  • How will the bill affect premiums and out-of-pocket costs for older senior citizens in Nevada?

 

We ask that you stand up for Nevadans and remember your obligation to them. You should not vote on a bill until you can answer these questions and share that information with state elected officials and constituents, so that we have time to analyze the impact and provide meaningful input. As elected officials, it is our job to protect the coverage that so many depend on for life-saving health care. We urge you to work toward solutions that will ensure people in Nevada and across the country have access to affordable, quality health care coverage that meets their needs.  

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Aaron D. Ford         Jason Frierson

Majority Leader Speaker

Nevada State Senate Nevada State Assembly

 

 

 

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