Vulnerable GOP senator criticizes healthcare plan

Vulnerable GOP senator criticizes healthcare plan

Sen. Dean HellerDean HellerPro-ObamaCare group targets key senators in new ads Overnight Healthcare: CBO predicts 22M would lose coverage under Senate ObamaCare replacement 40 million fewer people expected to vote in 2018, study finds MORE (R-Nev.) broke his silence on the House GOP’s proposal to repeal and replace ObamaCare Saturday, arguing that states need more time to adjust to changes in the Medicaid expansion.

According to audio obtained by Politico, Heller spoke about the proposed legislation during a town hall with his constituents.

“If you’re going to make changes to the Medicaid expansion, you have to give Nevada time to respond,” Heller said, noting that Nevada accepted Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare.

“In other words, they’re talking about 2020, now they’re talking about making the changes in 2018,” Heller said.

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Heller is one of several GOP senators up for reelection in 2018, but is the only one running in a state where Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonSanders keeping door open on 2020 Schumer: Dems, not Russia, are to blame for loss to Trump Dem rep: Kushner ‘lied’, should be investigated MORE beat President Trump in November. Heller is considered the most vulnerable Republican senator up for reelection in 2018.

The legislation proposed by House Republicans last week, known as the American Health Care Act, would dismantle ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion program. It would also eliminate the individual mandate requiring people to purchase coverage or pay a fine to the government. Instead, under the new plan, insurers would be able to charge a 30 percent penalty after gaps in coverage. 

“And my argument for this administration and frankly for leadership on both sides is that’s not enough time for Nevada to adjust. We need time to adjust. I want to move that thing up four or five years,” Heller added, referencing the changes to Medicaid.

Heller in the audio emphasized the need for the Senate to be able to amend the House measures.

Following last week’s unveiling, conservatives have criticized the new plan for not being a clean repeal of the existing healthcare law, while moderate Republicans have shown concern over the Medicaid expansion.

Republicans, in order to pass the new healthcare legislation, can only afford two defections in the Senate.

Heller during the town hall also criticized the new plan for keeping the "Cadillac tax," or a tax on high-cost health plans, which under the GOP plan would go into effect in 2025.

“My argument with the Republicans are if we’re going to make the changes, don’t repeal the Affordable Care Act so you can keep all the taxes. I think that’s unfair and I don’t think that that’s a responsible way to move forward,” Heller said.